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The Need to Always be Right

March 25, 2009

always-right21

Note: This is a reposting of an article I have had out of commission for a couple of years, so it might be new to you.

The lack of agreement between individuals at home or from different Christian groups and denominations causes much strife and bickering. This comes from the need to always be right.  Unfortunately, this looks really bad to those who are on the outside looking in; those whom we have been charged by our Lord to bring into the Kingdom.  Disagreements that bring the wrong image of Jesus to the world are sinful.  This article will show what the heart of God is on this topic as it deals with what is at the root of this need to always be right.

church-splitSome Christians actually believe that Jesus would want us to bicker with others if they are wrong.  I beg to differ.  Bickering and disunity are not characteristics of Jesus.  As we will see in His final prayer to God before ascending into Heaven, this was not His desire:

My prayer is not for them alone [twelve disciples]. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message… May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20, 23

This prayers spoke of Jesus’ Heart.  He also said the following: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:24-26

Satan knows this all too well.  If he can keep us fighting one another, the Church will fall.  For that reason let us endeavor to work on resolving this issue right here and now.  What is in the heart of man that allows Satan to control us like puppets to fight one another?  What is at the root of our fears, our prejudice, and our malice towards those in our own families as well as those Christians who are different from us in order to show the world that love and unity can exist between us even when we don’t agree?

This “need to be right” is the same basic problem that fuels the fires of most sin, including all sorts of disharmony between people. It is the root of war and murder as well.

The Origins of The Need to Be Right

What is behind the drive to be right…

Who I Am

Who I Am

We know that God made mankind for relationship with Him and He made us in His Image. That means we were created with a need built within us to identify with someone or something that will give us our identity and validate who we are. This comes through whatever relationship brings us acceptance. This is a fact, proven by the science and disciplines of psychology and sociology.

The need for acceptance makes us vulnerable to the fear of rejection. The moment we are forced to doubt our position with the ones who matter to us, especially as we are forming our identities, our position comes into question. In life we will face a myriad of lies, trauma, abuse, betrayal, abandonment, rejection, control, or intimidation that tell us we are flawed, we are defective, or that we are mistakes. This rejection, real or imagined, will, in turn, cause us to feel insecure about who we really are. This psychological concept is one of the main driving forces behind all of our motivations, behaviors, and reactions. Although this need for acceptance and our need for an understanding of who we are is God given, it has been distorted by sin and is the source of most of the strife we experience on earth today.

Sin came into the earth for two reasons. First there was temptation; the arousal of an appetite that was forbidden. Though, I don’t believe that, alone, was enough to cause Adam and Eve’s disobedience. No, I believe the issue of sin is much more complex than that. In order for man to be made in God’s image which is Love, God had to give man the opportunity to choose to love God or to reject Him. Without a choice there can be no love, otherwise it then becomes forced obedience or slavery. God didn’t want that. He wanted the obedience of mankind to arise from a desire to please Him out of our love for Him. The second element in this equation turned that choice, or temptation of man’s appetite, into a deed. The second element was a lie from Satan that put the lack of trust in God inside of man’s heart.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Trust in God’s Word!

Adam and Eve’s lack of trust came from the lie told to Eve by the serpent (Satan). He said that they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As a result of this lie, Adam and Eve had their first encounter with doubting God’s Word. This resulted in a psychological dilemma, the perceived abandonment by God through deception. This, in turn, shook up Adam and Eve’s identities. If God was a liar, then who were they? This is key…

In the end, Adam and Eve found out that God was not a liar. They would die for their choice… their choice not to believe in God’s Word to them or to trust in God’s Good and Holy Heart towards them. They would learn that He is our true source of Life, our Tree of Life, if you will. When we feed upon His Presence, we learn to trust Him. Obviously Adam and Eve were not feeding upon Him enough and did not really know Him.

When doubt and distrust enters into a relationship, the relationship either ends or cannot continue along the same lines it proceeded upon before until faith and trust are restored. The bottom line here was that Adam and Eve broke their connection with their Source of Life and began to die as a result.

As three-fold beings made in His image, their first death was of a spiritual nature, when their spirits lost connection with God. We know that anxiety, fear, insecurity, regret, and depression came to their souls at the recognition of their loss, their loneliness, fear of the future, and stress at having to work for their food and shelter. This psychological death in the heart of man releases toxic chemicals into our bodies thereby causing the onset of physical death.

Flawed, Distorted Identity

The Need to be Right and Group Dynamics

Deep within the soul of every human being is a knowledge we are somehow flawed. We are missing something key to our identities. We are longing for a connection that we cannot seem to make. When we do not have the true Identity Maker in our lives, we tend to identify with those individuals, groups, or things that represent whatever it is that is missing from our wounded and distorted identities so that we may receive the validation we so desperately seek. For some this may be identification with strong black males represented in the hip-hop or “gansta” culture. For others it may be identification with the Ivy League (intellectuals) or some other elite group. The flavor of our identification will come from whatever that wound of rejection made us think we really were. That flavor will usually take the shape of something that is the direct opposite of who we really fear we are, weak, flawed, ineffective, poor, ugly. It is through this identification that we try to bolster the areas where we believe we fall short so we can define who we really want to be (powerful, intelligent, rich, beautiful, holy, etc…)

Regardless of what flavor it is, the bottom line desire is to “be right”, to be in right standing with those we want to identify with and be accepted by. In other words, we want to be righteous.

When we don’t feel righteous, we begin to feel uneasy about ourselves. There is no peace. We begin to fear being rejected. On top of that, we fear that who we really are underneath our masks and group identity will surface and we will have to feel the loathing and hatred we have for ourselves again.  Our inclusion into a group we can identify with gives us a false sense of peace, as long as we can adhere to the rules.   Many people use religion in such a way.

The Need to Be Right and Disunity

This is where I want to make my point about how Christians treat one another. You see, we cling to being right so much that anyone that comes into our path that challenges our group identity becomes a threat to our peace, especially those who represent the sort of vulnerability to rejection we see among the new movements of God where people seem to act in foolish ways (“holy rollers” rolling around on the ground, “shakers” shaking, “quakers” quaking, getting drunk in the spirit, laughing, and so on.)

This “need to be right” is especially prevalent after a Christian comes into the Kingdom of God out of fear rather than out of a desire for a relationship with God. So this is the bottom line, folks. When our acceptance of Jesus into our lives becomes about relationship, we will flow more readily into the peace we seek because we will see that our Identity Maker already accepts us.. This was the reason He sent Jesus in the first place.

No, God wasn’t finished with His children after the fiasco in the Garden of Eden. God already made arrangements to come to earth in bodily form through His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for Adam and Eve’s mistake, which was death, so that we could be reconciled to Him! What good news! We were already accepted before the very real possibility that we were going to sin!


Faith in God’s Word, Faith in God’s Heart equals Righteousness

Have you ever wondered why God would call His Son the Word of God? Because it was His Word that was doubted in the Garden of Eden! It was His heart towards us that was not believed. Therefore we must believe in His Word and His Heart towards us, all of which is wrapped up in Jesus, He is the whole ball of wax!

Think about it! Before any relationship can begin, we take a step of faith or trust:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall have eternal life. John 3:16

This one fact alone, should give you reason to trust the Heart of God and provide us with the security that once we are His, He will never abandon or forsake us (Romans 8). When we simply accept Jesus, trusting God’s Word and Heart by having faith in Jesus’ life, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, we are made righteous again. We are clean. The fatal mistake of our disconnection from the Tree of Life, our Image Maker, has been corrected. The fatal flaw in our distorted self, with dead spirits, has been perfected by the entrance of an incorruptible seed, our born-again, sinless spirit man. We are washed from the stain of sin and made right! That is why people who are born again have such great peace. There is no more fear of death and life on earth all alone.

However, we cannot remain outside of this relationship and expect to live in eternity in Heaven with God. Yes, there is infinite grace and patience available to us, but one day the door will be closed and all opportunities lost (Matthew 25). So in that respect, there should be fear.
Promoting Unity and Healing Within

Regardless of the immense love God displayed in this sacrificial act, Christians are not always delivered immediately from every one of their fears, insecurities, and prejudices once they come into the Kingdom of Heaven. Those took years of programming to build up, so it takes time for them to be removed. This healing of the heart and renewal of the mind can only come from drawing close to our Identity Maker and His Word, Jesus (the Bible), in order to get our validation and security.

However, as a result of these former insecurities and a lack of understanding about their security in Christ, a lot of Christians will react to the threat of losing their salvation or connection with their Identity Maker out of the same fear and prejudice that they displayed before they were saved. They will even intimidate or exert the same sort of control measures over those within their own identity group over those who display any behavior which would threaten their sense of security within the group. This is the spirit of religion. This is why religion often comes in and takes over a group of believers.

We saw this spirit displayed by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, who, by the way, were the only sinners Jesus reprimanded sharply (see Matthew 23). This fact alone should tell us something. When people react this way to one another, to intimidate them into fitting some mold or religious idea of what they think a Christian ought to look like, you can look at it like a red flag, a sign that is that showing them there is a lack of healing in their hearts from their former wounds of rejection, abandonment, trauma, and betrayal and they are not drawing close enough to the Tree of Life for their acceptance, validation, and identity. This is why the Apostle Paul tells us “perfect love casts out fear”. If we are walking in fear, we need to perfect our love walk with God.

When Wrong Doctrine is a Source of Fear

There are times when someone will have plenty of scriptural proof to back up their claims that a fellow Christian or group is in error.
Jesus, himself said the following:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. Matthew 15

While this may be scary thought, Jesus then goes on to provide us a way to tell a false prophet from a true one:

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:16-20)

However, it becomes a bit more complicated when he adds the following into the mix:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

What we are able to gather from Jesus’ words is that there will be those who come along wearing the title of Christian who will try to deceive us. However, we can rest assured that we will be able to tell the difference between a false prophet and a real one because of the fruit that is in their lives. Unfortunately we cannot merely judge from the “anointing” upon their ministries because even false prophets will have the seemingly good fruit of miracles, casting out demons, and prophesy. Nor can we judge them by the size of their audience or church, the acceptance of other Christian leaders, or by their bank accounts.

I believe what Jesus is saying here is that we have to look at the whole picture. We need to look for the attributes of Christ in the fruit of the Holy Spirit… not perfection, mind you, because we all have our past emotional baggage to deal with and a need for greater growth. We need to look at doctrine and the heart of the person and use the discernment we get from the Holy Spirit. Again, no one will have everything down pat because we are ever growing and learning.

No, there is no one test of a true sheep, prophet, or minister of the Gospel. However, I do believe there will be key indicators that will give off red flags to help us recognize a person who is false rather than simply walking in human weakness or in error. Nevertheless, this scripture causes many Christians to fear and makes many of them use this scripture as an excuse to turn into heresy hunters or revival police.

When do we need to be concerned about the wrong doctrine or practices of others? We certainly need to find out the truth for ourselves and help others when we can, but do we ever need to outright reject those who call themselves Christian who are in error? No. We love them all. If we need to correct them, we do so in all gentleness, respecting the integrity of the person, and their feelings. If they are in gross error, believing Jesus is not the son of God or not born of a virgin, and the like, we certainly need to acknowledge this, but again, we don’t need to reject them any more than we need to reject a sinner. We probably wouldn’t want to hold gatherings of Christian unity with them, because that would send the wrong message, but those who are in error on minor, less weighty issues, should continue to be welcome in Christian gatherings with us. When in doubt, I always say, err on the side of love!

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© Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the previous and following statements on any distributed copy:

By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © Oct. 21, 2014 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos not owned by author).

**Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is meant to serve as medical advice. If you feel you are suffering from a mental illness, you need to seek the counsel of a certified mental health worker. The author is simply providing you with helpful information as a pastoral counselor with Master’s degrees in adult education and conflict negotiation and mediation.

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