Religion versus Relationship – Don’t Miss the Point (Part 2)

17 04 2013

First Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

I don’t know it all, and don’t want others to think I do. Walking with the Lord is a learning curve. The longer I walk with Him, the more He adjusts my thinking to line up with His. I am grateful for His patience with me.

A few years ago I read a book by Donald Miller entitled, “Searching for God Knows What.” It was an excellent read, and although I didn’t agree with some of what he had to say, he pointed out something so obvious that I’ve missed it all along.

It has to do with “Values Clarification.” Remember when the problem was presented: There are 7 people, and a lifeboat that will only seat 5? Our job was to decide who to kill. The butcher, baker, candlestick maker. You know; who was the least valuable, and therefore should be left out.

How sad it is that everyone I know (including myself) lives with this sort of mentality. I see everyone is a threat. I can’t encourage them, because it might cost me my seat in the lifeboat. (This is a very small nutshell to try to explain the concept – sorry if it isn’t making sense.) It’s why I seek for things to criticize in those whom I perceive as “better,” and find smug self-importance when I meet someone who is obviously “inferior.” Go to the nearest school and watch the kindergärtners. This kind of thinking begins very young.

I’ve realized that God designed us so that someone outside ourselves would define us. It was meant to be God, Himself. This was broken at the fall. So now we take our identities to others and ask them to tell us that we’re OK. The problem is that they have the same lifeboat mentality, and perceive us as a threat as well. (This is really over-simplified. Work with me here!). As a result, they are not very willing to affirm us. Believe me, I’ve lived a lifetime of being told what a waste of space I was. I’ve experienced this. Their voices were so loud that it was hard to hear the gentle whisper of God as He told me of His great love for me.

Even the disciples struggled with this as they argued about who would be the greatest. Jesus tried to tell them that there is no hierarchy in heaven. There’s the Trinity…and then there’s us. That’s it. No “haves” and “have nots.”

Since this was brought to my attention, I’ve been horrified at how quickly – and often – I evaluate others, comparing them to me (I always come out on top, you know!). My Bible calls this sin, and it grieves me to know how entangled I am in this belief. It is my continued, fervent prayer that God will work this out of me.

In the meantime, it has seriously changed my attitude about a lot of things. I can let go of the need to defend myself, knowing that we are all a work in progress, and God is still changing our hearts. There is more freedom in this than I ever thought possible. I don’t have to try to work myself to the top. As a result, I have been able to reach out to others in love, helping them to achieve their goals as we all strive to reach a lost and dying world for Christ.

The ministry of Jesus was spent seeking broken humanity and making them whole. He disregarded our conventions of who’s in and who’s not, and loved them, touched them, healed them. That’s my goal. I want to leave the fragrance of Jesus wherever I go.

This reply was given in response to a comment I received on a blog I posted in 2009.  I could have taken it one of two ways: as a sharp criticism to which I would have to defend myself to the death; or as an opportunity to allow God to help me clarify my thinking.

This is a brand new way (to me) of looking at people, one I like much better than the old, critical one. Therefore I chose to see it as an opportunity for growth, instead of as a threat. We are, after all, part of the same Body. It didn’t seem right that he would be shooting himself in the foot on purpose! …pulling out a splinter, maybe!

Maybe we could adopt this approach when we disagree with a brother or sister in Christ, instead of shredding them to bits. A lot gets lost in the translation when we’re dealing with the written word – no body language, no intonation. It’s easy to get “misheard.” Could we ask for clarification before we read between the lines? Let’s live love and not just hold it as a nice theory.

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon You, and give you peace.

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5 responses

19 04 2013
Rob Barkman

“The longer I walk with Him, the more He adjusts my thinking to line up with His. I am grateful for His patience with me.” I believe this is a very important key to sucessful Christian living. Understanding that our spiritual maturation is a process that is dependant upon our level of communion with the Lord.

Very good point and very well said. Lord bless you.

19 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks, Rob. How thankful I am for His patience. I’d have been reduced to an ash heap long ago if not for that. May this day be filled with the wonder of our Father, who loves us so much.

18 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks, Kris. I’ve actually seen this theme on several posts I’ve read this week. Hmm. Wonder if God’s trying to get a message across to us? 🙂

18 04 2013
Kris

I liked your comparison to the lifeboat question and envy. Novel connection. I have thought about this tendency of ours, to even ‘hate’ those who might threaten the position we want. It gets even nastier in us when it is someone we know well….”a prophet is never welcome in their hometown.”

It was that idea I had in mind when I wrote a post on envy…I’m sharing it here only because it really does tie into your excellent message. http://kingsgrass.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/kickball-pulpit-a-six-year-old-teaches-me-about-envy/

I’m thankful you stopped by Kingsgrass, as I might not have run into you otherwise. I have liked all of your articles that I have read so far and do not want to miss another. I look forward to reading more!

18 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Great story. Thanks for pointing me to it.

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