Guilt is Not Enough

Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him. – Mark 6:19-20


How is it possible for someone to enjoy being perplexed (completely baffled or confused)?

When Herod held John the Baptist in a palace prison, he would often engage the prophet in conversation.  The account of Herod’s response, though odd, is common today. Having preached in many different types of churches I have heard some interesting comments as I greeted those who were departing. One of my favorites is, “Great sermon, preacher! You really stepped on my toes today!” And it was usually said with a smile! People, it seems, like to feel out of sorts and challenged by uncomfortable ideas.

Here is what I have deduced from my own experience. Many people, like pain junkies, live for the convicting, piercing work of the Holy Spirit and believe that the aim of a message from God is that they be uncomfortable. The sermon is successful in their eyes if the result is a feeling of guilt. Yet, herein lies the problem. God’s aim is not guilt, but rather sorrow that brings repentance. Cognitive dissonance (the tension between what we know is right and the wrong of our current direction) is just the beginning.

While feeling “disturbed” might be good, it is not enough. God wants change.

Conscience is an inner voice that warns us somebody is looking. – H. L. Mencken

Published by Dr. David Pope

Dr. David Pope is the Founder and CEO of Pope Initiatives. ARM Solutions is a division of Pope Initiatives that exists to activate collaborative efforts for sustainable impact among the global unreached.

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