Sunday, February 05, 2006

Eddie Haskell Christians

One of the all time great modern villains is Eddie Haskell from the 50s TV show Leave It To Beaver.

What is truly evil about Haskell is his delusion that his faux concern, charity, and honor -- on constant display at the Beaver household -- actually works beyond the perfect discernment of the perfect TV mother. He wants to look good, but he doesn't actually want to put in the effort to be good.

There are plenty of Eddie Haskell Christians, but I don't want to get hung up on simple religious hypocrisy. When I think of Eddie Haskell Christians, I think of the scheming, heavy-handed ministers who have designs to spiritually fix everyone around them.

This is not to be confused with a sincere compassion you might have for those in your church, because compassion comes with a desire to assist, not control.

I know an Eddie Haskell Christian. He's a pastor of a medium-sized church. The reason why it's not a large church is because, after spending five years there, people -- especially those in leadership -- tend to leave bruised and mangled. The pastor always has some new way to improve people, like forcing them into difficult leadership positions in which they are not gifted and he has made no effort to equip them.

I can only assume this pastor is well meaning, but he thinks the ministry of God requires manipulation on his part. Manipulation defines Haskellism. He interprets his own sincerity as proof of God's authority. He attributes the immediate results of good works as proof of his divinely inspired leadership, and the ultimate undoing of these people as their personal failures, not his.

I can't claim myself as an authority on ministry, but I know enough to know that God is the one that does the fixing. He might use me to facilitate a path, but my operational tools are the Word and a truckload of grace. It's my job to be patient with those whom God has called me to minister to, as He does the work. Lord knows he's been working on me for 36 years, and I'm still a work in progress.

I don't really understand Haskellism except it appears to show a lack of faith in God, a mistrust that God isn't working fast enough or powerful enough to one's satisfaction. Furthermore, it is totally absent the fruits of the Spirit, and usually engenders bitter fruit in those who follow.

Many of those who were in leadership just five years ago at this pastor's church are now living lives outside fellowship. Some are living far beyond God's will, returning to a life of sin.

We serve a big and powerful God, and the fact He chooses to use us in His ministry should make us tremble. It's an awesome responsibility. On the other hand, He is a big and powerful God, and we would be well-served to trust that He's always on the job and it's His work alone.

I think this is why Jesus gave us simple instructions: to love God and to love each other as we love ourselves. When we stick to that, we generally fall into His will and we don't get in the way of the One who's doing all the important stuff.

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