March 29, 2010

How To Avoid A Code Red

I don't know about others but I don’t like pretending to be in a good mood. First, it isn't authentic and quite frankly, it is a deception in the form of mannerisms. If I am in a good mood I'm in a good mood, if I'm not I'm not. Second, I don't believe the Bible expects us to be perfect components of the body 24/7 and repress our true feelings. I'm not saying we should be all over the place I'm just saying people have their "moments". Pretending they don't happen is ridiculous. There are moments in the Psalms that are examples of righteous anger. In particular Psalms 109. There are intermittent waves of anger and despair from David. David resolves his anger and despair by putting the self in the context of God's power. After he has cursed the wicked and all those who detest him, he returns to plead before God that he not be destroyed with those who vilify him. We are not to conceal these types of emotion nor do we shoot them outward and pepper people in fits of rage, but rather speak the truth of our pain to God and the fellowship.

On the other side of the coin I don’t like being pigeonholed as a downer or a negative person because I occasionally manifest the true nature of my moods or poorness of spirit because I am being oppressed by the world system for days(or weeks). Being in the body and adhering to the Bible and Christ’s teaching encourages certain behaviors and assures us that the overall condition of the believer is to be in accordance with the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). They should be the general behaviors over the long-term but we cannot and are not always perfect. I never claimed to be perfect nor will I. Is my overall demeanor to change in the long haul? Yes. I am to do away with the old me tied to the sins of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). Additionally I am to be hopeful for the eternal life promised through Jesus Christ as stated by Paul when he wrote to the Philippians. A letter written even in the midst of suffering, Paul was joyous that the Gospel was being proclaimed.

"I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice" ~Phil 1:18

He wrote this statement during some very difficult circumstances. Yet in spite of the difficulties, Paul rejoiced in the ministry God had given him.

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." ~Philippians 1:20-21

Paul understood that it was possible to glorify God through not only his joy but also through his suffering and inevitable death. Things aren’t always going to be easy but we are encouraged to be of good spirit the best we can because of the promise of eternity with Christ.

…but even so…sometimes, I just can’t seem to pull up my collar and face into the storm. I need to turn to God in these situations and pray for endurance and perseverance.

Being part of the body also occasionally subjects us to trials or illnesses(figuratively) that otherwise would’ve had not affected us as single individuals. Disruptions and anomalies sweep through the church that disturbs the equilibrium and balance of the body. Often times they are simple things that at first appear harmless like rumors. They seem so harmless that they are ignored and then they spread and infect and drag down the body for a sustained period of time. Rumors become tumors and unchecked iniquities are detrimental to whole church.

This is where being “real” comes in handy and being “fake” or plastic hurts the entire body. When you act like you are “well” the entire body believes things are well and devote their energy to normal functions. As things continue to spiral downward for you and the mask you have on begins to wear away, your problems are no longer easily hidden. Rumors surface rearing their ugly heads like Piranhas. The need for the body to act becomes obvious because in many cases the problems become runaway and rumor runs rampant. The body then is forced to ramp up into an overreaction and emergency state to fix your issue AND quell the rumor mill. Everything goes *[Code Red]*, lights start flashing, bells, whistles, etc. What should've been a church turns into a circus. The body (church) now has a crisis that usually requires mobilization of more resources from the church than normally would’ve been required to arrest the situation and get it under control. I imagine church leadership would’ve liked to have prevented this calamity altogether. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventative rather than reactive is the name of the game. When a system needs to react to an emergency it usually tends to overreact to stabilize the system. Once it has the emergency under control a mop-up operation ensues and a nominal amount of energy is expended as maintenance. Meanwhile the body gets taxed to an extent that makes it unable to do some of what it should be doing which is reaching outward to the community to save the lost. Instead it needs to expend all its energy inward to stem the bleeding that was avoidable.

So how do we avert Def-Con 4 in the body? Be real and stay real! Be authentic even if it means occasionally being miserable. Please notice I said occasionally, if you are perpetually miserable you had better take a closer look at your self and your standing before God. Inevitably Christ gives us our reason for joy and hope but we are still trapped in the fallen creation. Be aware of your own situations too. Use discernment and know when you are being overwhelmed. Each successive wave that breaks on the shore during a rising tide is usaully higher than the last. Lose your foolish pride and know when to look and ask for help. We need to be diligent to stay the course. Jesus never promised a pleasant journey, he promised a pleasant destination if we accept, obey and love God.

The plastic façade endangers the church and yourself. It serves no purpose other than to deceive observers. Whether deception is the intent or not is irrelevant. We need to call on our brothers and sisters in fellowship. No one is capable of walking the road alone. Even Jesus asked the disciples to stay awake and to work in fellowship in prayer in His hour of greatest need. Instead they did not stay vigilant, they fell asleep multiple times. (Matthew 26:36-46)

All Jesus asked them to do is “keep watch with me” and “watch and pray”. He wanted fellowship and support. More specifically He addressed his need beforehand (before going up to Gethsemane). Of course the disciples failed but the thing is… He continued to interact with them. He returned three times to check on them and to wake them. He communicated his true feelings because He understood the limitations of the flesh. We should do the same within the body. Continue to communicate truths even when they aren’t pleasant. We need to understand that all are subject to limitations of the flesh. In these times we turn first to God and second to fellowship with our brethren. I don't believe it is any accident that Jesus told us to:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself" ~Luke 10:27

He knew we needed Him and one another.

We also need to understand that in these situations of pretending most people do not maliciously intend to mislead people, they usually are afraid of pushing others away by exposing their true moods and feelings. This is caused because of a warped twisted and unreasonable expectation that only perfectly unnaturally happy behavior is expected in the body. How silly. Personally, I don't view these unreasonable self-imposed expectations as any different than the unreasonable self-imposed rules and laws the Sadducees and Pharisees imposed on themselves and others. We commit ourselves to our own prisons that God never intended for us. He wanted a relationship with us because He knew we would fail and knew we were human, subject to human shortcomings.

Most people don’t mean to drag other people down when they get in over their heads, they just fail to ask for help. Sometimes there is no sense in stifling the sneeze when you're sick. The quickest way to the cure is to admit you don’t feel well and address the problem. Putting it off makes things worse. Believe it or not when you raise your hand to God or to (true) brethren to get attention and help in these situations it won't be seen as bothersome or an annoyance. Usually true believers will reach back to lend a hand. In the case of God it goes without saying.

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