Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Paul of Tarsus [Romans 12.2]
This morning (at a bible-study that I attend) a side comment stirred up in me some discussions that I have had in the past and want to chat about now.
The comment had to do with the idea of behavior modification. I have pondered this idea quite a bit because this seems to be the mindset that I’ve run into within the church. A mindset that declares that it is better to correct the behavior and ultimately fix it through a methodology of modification.
The image that almost always runs through my mind is that of a puppy that has yet to grasp the concept of going outside to
poop crap deficate sh.. [fine: insert whatever term you’d prefer]. The dog leaves a gift in the middle of your living room – what do you do? Scold the dog, smack him/her on the nose, rub their nose in it (my dad’s favorite training method), or put them outside [fyi: this was not intended to be an analysis of proper training methods nor is it meant to be all inclusive].
Eventually (if you’re lucky) the dog will begin to understand that @#%$$-ing inside is not appropriate behavior and will start to fertilize the back-yard instead of the thoroughfare of your home. Now, this doesn’t come about because the dog suddenly had a change of character and recognized how his/her actions had caused you to feel and how they now value your property – rather the dog’s behavior has been modified.
I feel that, we, as the church behave like this with one another – we swat the snout of our fellow domesticated church dwellers whenever they leave a gift in our midst. We continue to do this until the individual doing the gifting learns a more proper behavior. [NOTE: I stand guilty of this as well.]
Scripture seems to imply that G-d is interested in a transformed heart not a perfect pupil. An individual that is being transformed not a white-washed tomb (behavior is good – character is lacking) is what Jesus calls us to become.
Is it possible in our time to be a transformed people or are we stuck with behavior modification? How do we change the pattern? What is holding us back? Is behavior modification good? Ever?