Should

Dear Fellow-Christians,

I am tempted to write a somewhat angry and sarcastic post about how much I hate how we all like to use the word should. I want to explain my complete hatred of that word and why I hate that word. I have good reasons.

The thing is, I actually want to be heard. I don’t want to make you mad or defensive because I hate this word so much. So, I’m going to do my best to entreat you as a sister or a daughter.

Please stop saying “Christians should(n’t) [fill in the blank]”. Maybe we can all try to make a promise to ourselves to attempt to eradicate this word from our vocabularly.

I want us to stop saying should because the very definition of the word entails the motivation of duty or obligation. It is tempting to make our Christian lives one of duty, one that we live because we feel obligated to live. But, I contend that if you are living that way, you are missing out on grace, great grace.

Please hear me, I’m not trying to discount or abolish that God has standards that He reiterated in the New Testament for us to live by. Paul addresses this subject in the beginning of Romans 6.

I just want us to realize that if we spend our lives trying to do our duty, pay our debt or fulfill our obligations, we are kidding ourselves. We aren’t living the Gospel. Who cares if we can recite the Romans Road if we can’t understand what it looks like in real life to have your sins paid for in full at the Cross.

Stop saying things like Christians should be happy. All it does is induce incredible guilt in the Christian who is grieving or intensely struggling with something or even who has a physical problem that results in clinical depression.

The thing is, it is a great testimony to meet with a Christian who is truly happy in the Lord. We all need someone like that in our lives. And joy and happiness  are a by-product  of seeking the Lord, living to please Him and trusting Him completely.

In saying “Christians should be happy” we run the risk of causing people to chase happiness instead of chasing Jesus. Let’s chase Jesus together, let’s run towards Him together and find happiness on the way.

It is easy for me to say stop saying “Christians should be happy.” I’ve been on the receiving end of that and hurt by it many times.

But, if I’m going to fair, I have a “should” that I like to hold onto. It comes in the form of “shouldn’t”  as well. It is “Christians should love each other!”, “Christians shouldn’t treat each other like that”. Those “shoulds” are hard. They are borne out of either watching someone get hurt or being hurt by another Christian.

While I hate to give up these shoulds because I wish they could someday magically come completely true, I am willing to give them up. Instead of clinging to them, I want to make the commitment to love where I can, when I can with the motivation being that Jesus loves, not because I have a duty to love.

I’m against shoulds, duty and obligation not because they are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but rather because I see an inherent danger that duty becomes drudgery. When duty becomes drudgery, two things can happen. One, is that some people push themselves and power through and often become prideful because of their success. The other, some people just quit, throw in the towel and walk away resentful. Neither is the response that Jesus wants.

So, let’s cast off our shoulds for both ourselves and other people. If you catch yourself saying “should” to yourself, give yourself a chance to think it through. Can you do it freely without creating an obligation for someone to pay you back (or even God to pay you back)? What is your motivation? Is it a motivation that is pleasing to God? God cares just as much about your motives as He does about your actions.

If we catch ourselves saying “should” to or about other people, let’s be careful. Let’s try to accept people where they are at, love them because of how God loves them and if we can do so, come alongside them and walk with them for a while.

~Melanie

ps. This is definitely a topic that I’d love to have a conversation about. I realize that there are many differing opinions probably. I’d also like to acknowledge that I’ve not mastered this in my life. I don’t consider myself a hypocrite in this area because I’m not pretending to have mastered it, but I realize that there is definitely a disconnect between this idea in theory and my life.

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