Hugs and Kicks
Scene from Jesus of Nazareth, 1977
"I see good practice in member care as being rooted in the example of the loving care offered by Christ, the “Good Practitioner”. Christ’s model of relationship with us serves as a foundation for our interaction with others and for the good practice principles that we develop for member care (see the Figure below—JC as GP). The middle two dimensions of being comforted/challenged are normative for us, and reflect many of His encounters with disciples in the New Testament. He is both tender and at times tough in His relentless love for us. The extremes on the continuum would represent “worst practice” and do not represent Christ’s relationship with His people. Likewise, they should not reflect our relationship with mission/aid personnel—for example, overly protecting them and not sufficiently challenging them (coddling), or blaming them for having needs and frailties (condemning). Member care, then, is as much about comfort as it is challenge. It involves lots of hugs with some kicks (culturally appropriate forms) and lots of affirmation and some admonition (I Thes. 5:11,14).
JC as GP
coddler Comforter Challenger condemner
placater Peace-giver Provoker punisher
Adapted from Going Global: A Member Care Model for Best Practice, Kelly O'Donnell, Doing Member Care Well, 2002, p. 15
Sometimes people resist the gospel [the good news—which of course implies that there is some bad news] not because they think it false but because they perceive it [appropriately sometimes] as a threat to their culture, especially the fabric of their society, and their national or tribal solidarity [some just find it to be simply not relevant--practically, intellectually, or based on the behaviors of those individuals, groups, countries, etc. who "follow" the gospel]. To some extent this cannot be avoided. Jesus Christ is a disturber as well as a peacemaker. He is Lord, and demands our total allegiance [not just inflated/manipulative rhetoric but a conclusion and consensus based on the body of writings about Him and Christian life, gathered together in a compendium called the New Testament]. Thus, some first-century Jews saw the gospel as undermining Judaism and accused Paul of "teaching men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place," i.e., the temple (Acts 21:28). Similarly, some first-century Romans feared for the stability of the state, since in their view the Christian missionaries, by saying that "there is another King, Jesus," were being disloyal to Caesar and advocating customs which it was not lawful for Romans to practise (Acts 16:21; 17:7). Still today Jesus challenges many of the cherished beliefs and customs of every culture and society [including—and especially perhaps--the practices, lifestyles, and beliefs within the various Christian churches and traditions and certainly our own personal areas that need His disturbing and peacemaking light to shine on them].