A few weeks ago I had breakfast with my friend Danny Carroll, the pastor of Indy Alliance Church in the Fountain Square district of downtown Indy (and the wearer of great hats).
I love hanging out with Danny. He has uncanny insight, and he uses it to ask great questions. The kind that make you think. That make you go places you didn’t know you needed to go. That perhaps you didn’t want to go. Danny challenges me.
It’s a gift. But the beauty may be more in the way he uses it.
Never once during our many conversations have I ever feared his anger, rejection, or condescension (even when I may have deserved it). In fact, his personality is contagious. I always feel like Danny leaves me a little better than I was. And leaves me wanting more.
Similar encounters have been less inspiring. Sometimes a challenge goes all Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann (we have an equal opportunity metaphor policy here), leaving me hollow, guilty, and condemned. More like a drive by flogging. And no one wants to have coffee with that, even if it’s buying.
That got me thinking (what doesn’t?). Where’s the transformation? When does David Banner turn into the Incredible Hulk? What’s the difference between challenging someone and condemning them?
Isn’t it ironic that the people who appeared to be like Jesus the least, were the ones who wanted to hang out with Him most? Everything about Jesus was a challenge. To their culture. Their perspectives. Their self-absorbed nature. His words must have been brutally uncomfortable at times. Challenging.
Yet Scripture is very clear, Jesus didn’t come to condemn, but to offer hope. Not to heap guilt, but to put the world right again (John 3:17).
So what’s the difference?
Challenge is essential for growth. For change. For transformation. But when does a healthy challenge turn into ugly condemnation? Are the two even related? When have you felt challenged? Condemned? What do you think is the difference?
Love to hear your thoughts.