The God of “Tough Love Dentistry”


I just returned from my semi-annual trip to the dentist and I’m quite happy to report that I don’t have any cavities or other serious issues. Such was not the case a few years ago when I made my very first visit to my present dentist. After a painfully thorough cleaning and a round of x-rays, the dentist pulled up a chair next to me and, in the kindest way possible, told me that I had roughly forty-three cavities (that may not be the exact number, but there were enough cavities to cause tears to well up in my eyes).

My previous dentist, who had just retired & left town, never told me such awful things (or caused me to cry). He would waltz in with a big smile, tap a few of my teeth and tell me how marvelous they looked. Then we would swap a few basketball stories and he’d send me happily on my way. It was wonderful: No flossing, no fluoride rinses, no limiting of sweets – just pats on the back and a soothing, “See you in six months!” The only problem was that none of it was true. My teeth weren’t wonderful and I really did need to floss.

It took several shots, fillings, crowns and cleanings to repair the damage of many years of abuse and neglect. In addition, I began brushing, flossing & fluoride-rinsing my teeth religiously to keep them strong and sound so I won’t have to hear the (ungodly) sound of the dentist’s drill in the future.

Now, my two dentists – the “cheerful, pat-you-on-the-back” dentist and the “tough love” dentist – contrast in much the same way as the “sweet, Oprah-esque” god of popular culture contrasts with the God of the Bible. The adorable god of pop culture is ever-reassuring us that “everything’s fine” while telling us to follow our heart’s desire, no matter what it may be. It’s wonderful to hear and makes us feel good…for a while. The problem is that our “cavities” of sin & lostness are growing ever-larger and causing greater destruction, and we remain frightfully unaware of the damage happening within us & around us.

On the other hand, the “tough love” God of Christianity tells it to us straight, even though it may bring tears to our eyes to hear. He let’s us know the full extent of our dire situation so that we’ll put our trust in him to begin repairing the years of damage, even though it may be a long & painful road back to full health. We may prefer to hear the message that “everything’s marvelous”, but God loves us to much to let us slowly rot & decay in sinful ignorance.


Post by: Eron Elswick, Leadership Team

Worship – Grow – Serve


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