As soon as I posted Two Ways to Pastor I thought - I'm missing a third way.
And I can do no better in describing it than to show you this clip from the film "Friends with Money." The movie feels like it was written by a 1st year psychology student. And while there are a few interesting examples of relationship dysfunctionality, the denoument to which the whole slushy mess has been heading is this heart-to-heart between Jennifer Aniston and her new man. Previously, when she'd worked as his maid, he had scrooged her out of full payment and now it's revealed that he's actually stinking rich. The cad.
No doubt interrogation units are using this film to extract information from suspects around the globe. The simultaneous urge to laugh, shriek and vomit is wildly disorienting don't you think?
Here is the third way to pastor. We say to each other, "I've got issues. (Commitment trouble. Sex addiction. Difficulty getting close. Need for control.) Don't dig too deep. Not here. Just admire the complicated splendour. Don't confront. There's no need, I'm seeing a therapist. We're working it out far away from the actual relationships my sins are destroying. You have 'issues' too? Aren't we interesting!"
What's wrong with this model? Well, cutting to the chase, Jesus didn't die for 'issues'. He didn't die for your commitment trouble. He didn't die for your weirdness around women/men/money/authority/food. He died for your sin.
Therefore, cross-centred pastoral care is not about diving into the dark and alluring waters of Lake You. We don't plumb the depths to generate labels for our dysfunctions. No, we uncover depths of feeling, thinking and acting because we're exposing sin to the Light. In the therapeutic world the 'inward look' actually serves to obscure. It's these labels that justify my sin, not Christ. In the gospel we aim to diagnose the problem so radically that Christ alone is the solution. In this way 'the look within' is only meant to serve 'the look up'. (See the cross diagram of the last post)
If you hear me reacting against Pharasaical pastoral care and think I'm capitulating to therapeutic wallowing, rest assured. I am not interested in 'sharing' for sharing's sake. I want to flag up here and now that looking beneath surface behaviour is not good in and of itself. There is an 'inward look' that is pure introspection. And in the end it serves to hide sin and deny Christ.
But there is another kind of 'inward look' which serves to drive us to Jesus as beggars. That's what I am arguing for. My dyfunction (if you want to call it that) is not that 'social situations make me anxious' - my problem is that I'm a sinner and in myself the wrath of God is against me. Rightfully so - I have developed and nurtured complex, chosen, self-protective, self-promoting, Christ-denying matrices of sin. And it's not mysterious or brave or profound - it's ugly. Wrath-deservingly ugly. And I can't hide it, I can't justify it, I can't atone for it. All I can do is, in fellowship with you, come into the Light, 'and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.' (1 John 1:7).
This is what a look 'below the waterline' is about. It's not about nodding sagely to each other's 'issues'. It's confessing our sins to each other. We'll be thinking more about this soon.
But for now I just wanted to throw into the mix this therapeutic way to pastor.
So... there's the Pharasaical world, the therapeutic world and the gospel world.
More to follow...