Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nation of Rage

Have you ever heard the term "the framing effect?" If not, what it all boils down to is that people tend to rate the value of information they receive from others, by the way that it is presented, rather than by its actual content. So if someone communicates a message negatively with hatred and anger, they won't likely consider a word you say. They can't get past your hateful rage in order to look at the message objectively. Yet, this methodology of using anger in a vain effort to give our words power is being used quite often, especially in social media. However, people are not seeing how they are in reality having quite the opposite impact that they want in swaying the opinion of others. The illusion that they are producing positive results is very real in their eyes though. Since negativity can seem very positive to those who share the same feelings of anger over a given subject. It gives a voice to their anger, and people very much feel validated when their emotions are acknowledged. So anger often just becomes a rallying point, so people can gang up on the people with differing opinions that threaten us. So we don’t feel all alone in our opinion. In the end, anger is ultimately increased and intensified to dangerous and explosive proportions this way. Yet, the intended message or reasoning behind that anger just gets all the more lost and obscured, regardless how valid it may be.

Of course, when we believe we are right, we think it excuses us from having to listen. But, how are we supposed to convince anybody without anger, if we don't first seek to understand their point of view? Since they just might think that they don’t have to listen to you either. Someone has to step up and do the right thing first, if not the disciple, then who will? Of course, you have to have true understanding of your beliefs to talk about them reasonably. Then again, maybe this is why many are so prone to resorting to anger, it is all just a feeling for them.

So let me ask you this, what methods do you present your message of truth?

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. -James 1:19-20

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, -1 Peter 3:5

The Visual PARABLEist

a person responding negatively to an outburst of anger.
click to enlarge

Saturday, August 20, 2016


But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. -I Corinthians 12:18

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. -Colossians 1:18

They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. -Colossians 2:19

a paralized body looking its head and heart on a pedestal.
click to enlarge

The above drawing was inspired by a story that a pastor told me. About a person who walked into his office unannounced, and opened with the phrase "what are you doing to build up this church?" While he offered no specifics or even a name. It was obvious he had some concerns over this person's attitude. Yet had even greater concerns that this attitude is held by more than this one individual. In all honesty, I have every reason to believe his concerns are warranted.

Granted, all believers want their church to be strong, but to what end? For God's sake, for the sake of the unsaved? Or just so that it will always be there for them, to fulfill certain needs. While the church should do what it can for its members, especially for new believers. But let me ask you this, how is the body of the church supposed to do that for many people with so many inactive parts? The church body seems very much crippled with most of its parts only there to receive, and very few parts wanting to give. But is that realistic, should so many parts of the body of the church be as willfully paralyzed as it is?

Maybe we need to have a closer look at Paul's metaphor for the church as a body, with Christ being the head of it. If Christ is truly the head of the church, he can still be active within this world if we are truly connected to him, and responding to that connection. As active as the many parts of his church body is. While Paul never explicitly says who the heart should be, many in the body put that burden upon their ministers. Not that I am saying that is how it should be, just that is how it is often applied. I'm sure I could make a better argument for the Holy Spirit being the heart of the church. Unfortunately, for many churches, the pastor is often one of very few conduits of the spirit, so the drawing works either way. The heart is certainly a critical part of the body, but it does not have the ability to bear the weight of the body. Yet, it is through heart that the body has the strength to bear its own weight. It is through strength of heart we keep from being idle. Let's face it, bodies do not thrive in idleness. Yet, ultimately this attitude I am trying to address wants their church to thrive despite their own idleness. They want to feed off of the labor of others. They want to ride on the back of the work of someone else. If that is how it really worked, Paul would have used a very different metaphor than a living body.

What seems the norm for many churches these days are that 80-90% of the work is done by 10-20% of the people. That's a rather poor power to weight ratio. I'm sure many want to believe that Jesus can pick up the slack. Well of course, he could, but why should he. If we are counting on that just so that we can take and receive, yet never have to give in a loving Christ like way ourselves, then he would be blessing selfish behavior. Enabling a behavior that drains the body of the church, rather than build it up. What we often refer to as negative reinforcement. God certainly knows better than to encourage that. Granted, it can be very hard knowing where to draw the line between our part and God's part. Knowing how faith in God, and trust in his sufficiency really apply. So let me throw these ideas out there to consider.

•Strength that is not put to use, is of no more value than idleness.
•How will we know where to apply God's strength if not for the wisdom the head of the church body offers?
•Separate, we are all imperfect, and in need of something, but we all have something to give as well. If we all focused on giving what we could to the rest of the body in love, rather than selfishly demand that our needs are met, we just might find that our needs will be met without demanding. We just might witness the church grow in strength.

The Visual PARABLEist

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. -1 Thessalonians 5:12-15