If you’re involved in any sort of Christian ministry, you’ve probably got a steady stream of “projects” coming across your desk. Births, deaths, engagements, marriages, family problems, relationship issues, etc. And if you’ve been at it for any length of time, you’ve probably developed an approach to each of these that allows you to move it from the “inbox” to the “outbox” fairly easily.
But what happens when the questions get harder and the problems get bigger? What happens when you don’t know what to say or do? When your advisers don’t know what to say or do?
Such projects too easily end up in the “too hard” box. It’s not that we don’t want to help. We usually do. It’s just that it’s, well, too hard.
The “too hard” box
Let’s have a look at a typical “too hard” box. As we pull out the stack and sift through the stories, we’re likely to see lives broken and distorted in areas such as mental illness, gender and sexuality, and abuse. Allow me to outline some of these situations in more detail and while I do, consider how many of these would end up in your “too hard” box.
Gender and sexuality
Gender confusion and identity issues
Sexual attraction (homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, asexual)
Sexual perversion (homosexuality, incest, necrophilia, bestiality, pedophilia)
Depending on who you are and how you grew up, some of these things may be old-hat to you. You can guide a soul through these issues from Scripture in ways that lead to hope and healing. For others, you don’t even know what some of these are. Which makes it hard. Potentially too hard. And we start eyeing the “too hard” box.
Filling up the “too hard” box
What could motivate people who have dedicated their lives to helping people to take soul-crushing problems and toss them into the “too hard” box like an old phone bill?
Often we make the toss out of…
He’s always so down!
That is so gross!
I’m not befriending some girly boy!
You must have chosen to be like this.
You don’t want to change.
You must be in sin.
You must not really be saved.
I would never do something like that.
I know I’m a sinner, but at least I’m not like that!
My sin is attractive. Yours is unattractive.
How can I help someone like this?
What if it goes wrong?
What if she becomes attracted to me?
I’ll look stupid.
I’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist and carry on as if it didn’t.
If I ignore it, maybe it will go away.
She’s such a lovely Christian… I’m sure she’s just exaggerating the problem.
I don’t know what to say.
How can I help someone with such a complex problem?
I don’t know anything about this!
You just have to read the Bible and pray more.
In reality, it’s usually a combination of several of these or other factors.
Tossing someone in the “too hard” box is easier than the alternatives. It gets the problem off my desk and, if I can convince myself of the rationale, off my conscience. But what about the soul I’ve just stamped “TOO HARD”? This will be the topic of my next post in this series.
Grace to you.