Updated: Oct 14, 2019
I've been reading Dr. Henry Cloud lately and I came across something that I think is very relevant to Christians today in relation to their churches.
Read the following quote from Henry Cloud and keep his comments in mind when it comes to the guilt that your church and its leaders/pastor may sometimes try to project onto you.
"Projection of guilt is toxic.
Binding someone’s choices by guilt or manipulation is not love; it is slavery.
There are countless ways that people try to make other people’s choices for them. Think about the times when we’ve heard, “If you love me, you will do this or that.” They are most often crossing boundaries to take away someone’s free choice of how they will love. To say, “If you love me, you will not go bowling,” is an attempt to say, “If you love me, you will do anything I want and not have choices of your own unless I like them.” Those sorts of statements should always be confronted with a clearing up of boundaries: “That is not true. I love you, and I’ll choose how I’ll spend this evening. You can’t decide whether or not I love you. That’s my choice.”
People who cross boundaries and try to take away others’ choices call those other people “selfish” when they try to take back their power of choice. Doing something for yourself isn’t necessarily bad; it assumes that we need to do some things for ourselves, and that’s ok sometimes. Remember, whenever you tie a chain around another person’s ankle, it will invariably end up around your neck..."
- Dr. Henry Cloud
"The projection of guilt is toxic." - Dr. Henry Cloud
Pastors and church leaders will oftentimes guilt you by saying things like, "If you really love God, you'll give more money to the church. Keeping that money for yourself is selfish," or "If you're really interested in following Jesus, you'll obey His commandments, which are what we say they are."
These kinds of statements are an attempt to project guilt onto you in order to manipulate and control you, but they aren't true.
In Christ, we do have freedom. In Christ, we are filled and led by the Spirit, whose will is opposed to the will of the flesh, and convicts us in our own heart by our own conscience. Because of this, His Spirit within us is constantly warring with our flesh, and because what we want to do is obey God, we pray for our will to be conformed to His.
In Legalism and Religion, the power and work of the Holy Spirit is ignored entirely, placing perfection on the will of your flesh, and re-establishing a list of laws and rules that you must follow. Laws and rules that they guilt you into following through toxic projection and manipulation, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to do his job. They take his place, separating us from God as if Christ died for nothing. And it's slavery.
Jesus has done the work, and He continues to do the work IN you by the Spirit. You are not righteous by your own will, efforts and deeds, but by the righteousness of Christ imputed to you and worked through you by the Spirit.
God's laws are written on His people's HEARTS, not in some membership agreement or list of supposed commandments decided on by your pastor. While your church likes to believe it is they who decide what Jesus commands and then impose those commands on you to follow (then project toxic guilt and shame on you to manipulate you), we are not confined to the teachings and demands of human authorities any longer.
We have Jesus, we have the Spirit, we have direct access to God Himself, and we have His Word. We are held accountable to God Himself by God Himself through the Spirit, which dwells within us.
It is so easy to forget these important truths while entrenched in the modern Christian churches of today, which neglect the Holy Spirit, the teaching of the Word, and the true Gospel of Jesus. They reinstate the law so carefully and gradually that it's not even noticed by most. It only takes one little subtle step at a time to eventually land a congregation in a funnel of slavery, living their lives to please their church, their pastor, and the rules imposed upon them, rather than going to God directly and allowing the Holy Spirit to work within them Himself.
There's a fine line between the mountaintop of true freedom in Christ and the subtle slope downward into slavery that today's modern Christian churches attempt to impose on its congregations, so we must keep our eyes on Jesus. Don't allow your church, your pastor, or anyone to pull you back into a yoke of slavery, Christians.
You are no longer slaves to sin and the law. Christ has set you free, and when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.
(John 16:7-11; Galatians 3:1-14; 5:1, 16-18; 2 Cor. 3:12-18; Romans 2:14-16; 12:2; Hebrews 10:16; Matthew 11:28-30; John 8:36)