Saturday, December 20, 2008

two words, one lie

two words, one lie

The devil is more than willing, and very able, to tell you what a Christian should be.

A Christian should feel happy all the time.
A Christian should be rich.
A Christian should never doubt.
A Christian should know more Bible by now.
A real Christian should never have a marriage that is broken, a child that is run away or a hope that feels small and extinguished.
A real Christian should never be hurt or lonely or sad or angry or stressed or depressed or confused.

Painting a picture of what a Christian should be is perhaps the devil's favorite activity.

But, he will never be able to tell you what a Christian can be.

He cannot plumb the depths of God's love within us.
He cannot fathom the might of God's power within us.
He cannot comprehend the relentless pursuit of God's grace within us.

He cannot tell you what a Christian can be, but he will whisper aggressively what a Christian should be.

The challenge is not to confuse those two words, can and should. Because one produces shame and condemnation, attempting to put limits on a God that is limitless. The other, shines a light on a God in which all things are possible.

Can and should.

Which one do you hear most?

Which one are you listening to?

31 comments:

KatieHen said...

wow great post. That is so true - the devil totally loves to tell us what we "should" be. i have to say that may be his favorite thing to tell me - that i should not struggle with certain sins because I am a Christian.
his lies are so easy to believe. he even uses the bible to lie to us. which i guess makes sense because he did the exact same thing to Jesus.

Cmommy @Singalullaby said...

I like the word 'can'. Great post!

I'm here via your Elf On The Shelf post, via The Three Olivos. I teach PreK and learned about the elf at our Christmas party yesterday; several parents were raving about him. Now that I've seen a picture, I'm officially frightened!

Merry Christmas :-)Chrissy

Megan said...

Sometimes I'm consumed with convincing my husbannd to be the Christian man that he should be. Thank you for making me realize that maybe I'm the one being misled.

Lisa said...

sometimes my husband tells me to stop "should"ing on myself

Sherri said...

WHen I read about Jesus and how he interacted with those around him, I don't hear the "shoulds".
I think that was the voice of the Pharisees that He didn't have much respect for.
Kinda' puts it all in perspective for me.

He wants my heart, not my sacrifices.

eastern ky pastor said...

now this should be in the book!

wv: looppole - what Blogo is hoping for

Anonymous said...

I love this.

Steffi said...

Thank you...
I'm currently at the end of the 16th year of my life and the one thing I learned the hard way in 2008 is that listening to all of the "should be's" brings only despair, misery and torment.
Whispered voices at night telling me that I could never be good enough, that Jesus shouldn't have died for me because I wasn't worth it....that I was a terrible example for a Christian and was only vexing God because I kept trying and failing and the good Christians didn't have these horrid, dark feelings and guilty thoughts. Feeling condemned about feeling condemned...
And the guilt was like an iron clasp that I lived with day and night, chaining me to failure.
*sigh*
But thanks to God's use of the church, I have been fighting these lies and clinging to God's promises of what I AM in Christ. And he's proven his love in so many tangible ways. It's still a struggle, but...one with hope.

Thank you for your post.
We *can* do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Such a lovely thought...

Allen Arnn said...

very good...

sharilyn said...

too often in the past i've heard the 'should' but now i hear the should and cast it aside... my friend always says to me "Don't should on yourself!"

i do need to focus on the "can"... i can do it. i know i can. i can do all things thru Christ Who strengthens me!!!

thank you, Lord, for the cans!! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jon.

I grew up with a lot of "should" and have the unhealthy habit of heaping guilt on myself instead of grace.

I just began anti-depressants and kept thinking "I'm a Christian. The joy of the Lord is should be my strength, not Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. I'm broken. I shouldn't be broken."

Thanks for your post. It's helping to anchor me to the truth this morning.

Donna said...

I agree w/ eastern kentucky pastor...

Charllotte said...

Can food for thought: edifying for the soul. =]

Thanks for such a well articulated reminder.

Huggies said...

I think you need to write two books.

Or else plan to include some of these thoughts in published form somewhere.

Why? Because for all the laughs and good vibes I get out of your gentle sarcasm in Stuff Christians Like, I also really really appreciate the more 'serious' posts like this one.

Having said that, putting this stuff on a blog is an awesome thing, so please don't think I'm being all demanding :)

katdish said...

I've got nothing to add except, Wow. Just wow.

RJR said...

i really needed to hear this today. after a long period of sustained awesome, things have suddenly become confusing again. it's amazing how fast everything i thought i had dealt with came rushing back. thanks for the reminder that i need to keep focussing on what i can be.

tjw1970 said...

Great post, Jon. This is something I need to take to heart...I spend too much time dwelling on what I should have done instead of what I can do...

LeLe said...

I really needed this today. Thanks, brother.

Marni said...

Lately I've been listening to the "shoulds". That was hard to type. But it's true. And yesterday I began a very long overdue dialogue with God about that very thing. Then I hit a brick wall.

God just used you to get the dialogue going again. Thank you for writing what you did. I needed it. So badly.

Anonymous said...

thanks - to you and to Anonymous 12/20

Mella DP said...

Actually, it's my pastor's wife who tells me most of those things...what does that imply?

shari kelly said...

I've just learned about the evil of "should" this year, when I started seeing a counselor (and taking SSRIs!) and I have to say, if you've ever thought about finding someone to talk to, do it! It really helps stop the "should"ing.

brian said...

Great post, i think we all need to be reminded of that from time to time.

Tiffany Almirola said...

i don't know if you are married or have a girlfriend but can i just say your words make you more sexy than any abercrombie and fitch photographer EVER could!!! you are so INSIGHTFUL & TALENTED!!! Your heart for making God simple to love and impossible to reject is absolutely UNIQUE... Keep up the amazing work...

jenn3 said...

This is great and I needed to hear it. I focus on "should" way too often. I'm divorced, my ex is in prison, and I'm raising a daughter alone. Just saying that sounds trashy to me. Sometimes I'm surprised that my church wants me to be involved. Like I might make the church look bad. I think I judge myself more harshly than anyone else can. I needed this. Thank you again.

Kim said...

Great post. Thank you!

Flesheater said...

as my college bible professor would say, "is that good stuff? or is that Good stuff?!"

Katie said...

I needed to hear this, to be reminded of it, really. Thank you.

This past summer, I was attempting to sell my house, as I got ready to move to attend seminary. Despite "knowing" that God always provides, I was plenty nervous and anxious about the whole thing. Pretty soon, what I stared to hear in my head was, "If you really trusted God you wouldn't be nervous or worried." Fortunately, I have a fabulous pastor who recognized this for what it was - straight from the fires of hell - and was a source of great encouragement to me.

Thanks for being so wonderful, and for using the gift of writing that God has so clearly given you.

Anonymous said...

Really, really good. The Holy Spirit! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jon, very interesting the only thing I dare say is that God is the one who ultimately tells us how we should be, how we should act, how we should live, how we should love. If we don't listen to Him then we could really have some problems, huh? It's all about an individual's heart in relationship towards God, Amen? Due. 30, A way of life and death. Thank God His word will never change.

Val said...

Can I tattoo this onto the inside of my arm so I won't forget it?

I loved this. I NEEDED this. And I so glad for the unfathomable God of "can."