Behavioral Heresy

On the way to pick up my son from college, I listened to a podcast by Eric Ludy. He briefly mentioned an intriguing concept he labeled behavioral heresy. Since becoming a follower of Jesus, I have loved to read and study the Bible. Truly, I do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from His mouth. I want to the word of God to be my plumb line to measure my life against His enduring truth.  A plumb line was a measuring tool that allowed someone to determine if a wall was straight. I was going to write it was a method used long ago, but my friend Judy traveled to Peru a few of years ago and said her team used a plumb line on their construction project.

The New Testament epistles are full of warnings to the church to watch out for false teachings and heresy. However, in hearing the phrase, behavioral heresy, I was challenged to consider if I am as careful with how I live as how diligently I study. Remember the old saying, “You may be the only Bible they ever read.” Long before that Paul wrote to Titus that we are to adorned with the doctrine of Christ.

We have all know people who claim to be Christians, yet their lives belie this assertion. Years ago I knew a man, Bud, who cursed, lusted, was mean to his wife, but he said he had been saved as a boy and could explain the gospel and other important doctrines of Christianity. As a young believer this really confounded me. As my husband says, “The audio did not match the video.” Bud’s behavior was an extreme dichotomy between his stated beliefs and his way of living, but we have observed others that leave our spirits disquieted. Many who identify themselves as Christians stir up controversy and provoke unfruitful discussions. Some in leadership may perform at church having spiritual fruit appearing fully ripe and sweet while at home the fruit is immature and bitter.

peacockBut this isn’t those other people, it is about my life and what someone may presume about God by watching me. How do I respond to difficulties? What words and tone of voice do I use when I am irritated? Do I let my flesh/emotions rule my decisions or am I continually led by the Holy Spirit?  Knowing I can never do anything apart from His power working through me, I pray that the word of Christ will dwell richly within me and that in whatever I do in word of deed, all will be done in the name (and character) of Jesus Christ our Lord. Colossians 3:16-17.

20 Questions

Dear Novice Listener:

In my previous letter, Help for the Loquacious, I suggested some ways to better engage a person who does not verbally process to the extent which you do. If you are willing to practice, here are 20 questions you could pose to encourage another person to participate more actively in a conversation. Some are better for newer acquaintances and others for closer friends.

  1. What has your week been like?
  2. What have you been reading or watching?
  3. What is something you have learned recently?
  4. What is something new you would like to try?
  5. Where would you like to visit?
  6. How can I pray for you?
  7. What is currently your biggest struggle or road block?
  8. What do you consider some of your successes?
  9. What was the best compliment you have received?
  10. What are you most thankful for this week?
  11. How have you seen God working in your life lately?
  12. What is a decision for which you need wisdom?
  13. What is your most challenging relationship?
  14. What kinds of things fill your love tank (make you feel treasured)?
  15. What are you looking forward to?
  16. What are you concerned about?
  17. What is something that you would like to have an opportunity re-do?
  18. What are some of your talents or abilities?
  19. Will you tell me a funny story from your life?
  20. What is your favorite dessert? Or place to eat out?

Obviously, you don’t want to bombard the person to the extent of being considered “the Grand Inquisitor” as my husband once called me. It takes more than listening briefly to one answer to build trust. It is important to become a safe person with whom others can share their hearts.