As I watch the news and listen to people’s opinions about what is wrong in the world, I can become discouraged. Part of my discouragement comes when I see us dealing with symptoms rather than the root.
What do I mean? An example is bullying. This is a real problem. However, will bringing awareness, making posters, role playing, wearing a specific color, or banners on Facebook bring an end to bullying? Maybe. I think we are focusing on the symptom rather than the root.
How can parents help our kids get to the root?
At Hesston MB where I am a pastor, we have a banner that describes the process of discipleship. This process we discovered by reading DiscipleShift by Jim Putman & Bobby William Harrington1. They write, “We see that a disciple is a person who 1. Is following Christ (head), 2. Is being changed by Christ (heart), 3. Is committed to the mission of Christ (hands).”
How does this definition apply to bullying or any problem we face in our culture? Everything. A disciple involves head, heart, and hands. Meat Loaf’s song, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” does not work.
How do head, heart, and hands apply to bullying? We start with the mind. Bullying is wrong because every person is “created in the image of God” (Genesis 1:28). They are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). We need to “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). They are loved by God (John 3:16).
We then take these truths and let them sink deep into our heart. Ask for the Holy Spirit to help us see all people as God sees them. Pray for help in loving difficult people and even our enemies. Memorize and remind ourselves of the verses above.
Remember that the battle is not against “flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12) and that the weapons we fight with are spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) which include prayer, worship, Word of God, and the blood of Jesus.
Finally, when it comes time to put it into practice with our hands, we allow the head and heart to lead what we are doing. Too often we jump straight from head to hands and only see a temporary change. As our head, heart, and hands work together, we see transformed lives not just lectures or temporary behavior change.
I applaud the work schools and governments are doing to try and deal with a variety of problems in our world. However, without heart change through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, these attempts will only be partial and temporary. Let’s get to the root!
1. DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples, Jim Putman & Bobby William Harrington, Ziondervan, 2013.