How We Can Be Better

Invitation to the Center

Is Christ divided?
Is the category under the title, “Christian,” divided?
I would think we can all agree on the answer.
Do we divide the body of Christ?
What do you, personally, gain from dividing yourself from other parts/denominations/ideological sects of Christianity?
What do you lose? (You may not think you lose much.)

The body of Christ is divided.
Is the mind of Christ divided?
I believe we would agree that it is not.
If the mind of Christ belongs to Christ, we cannot divide it.
We can only deviate from it.
The division in the body of Christ shows that most Christians have deviated from the mind of Christ.

I will not propose which ideologies or groups have deviated from the mind of Christ.
I will propose that our feelings of entitlement to our opinions are unfounded.
I will propose that our beliefs, as individuals, that we have opinions that we, our individual selves, have formed through wisdom and understanding are unfounded.
Human minds are not bent on creating true ideas, but rather, subscribing to created ideas which bring them safety and comfort.
Until you understand and accept this, you will not find a way to a truly personally-held belief.

The Bible says, “You have the mind of Christ.”
It does not say this to us, but to a local church in antiquity.
Experience is evident; we do not all have the same mind and heart, but it seems (probably because of our lazy/purposefully deceptive media) that we tend to ascribe to the minds of authority and ideological tribe.
If this proposition stirs a defensive response in your mind, it may apply to you.
In truth, it applies to all of us.
We have to have a better mind.

I believe that the mind of Christ is a gift to answer the questions of this division in the body.
We are prone to division.
Many of us have admitted to being prone to sin.
It is amazing how we can believe this, and yet, believe we are absolute in our political ideologies and economic self-righteousness.
Greed is of the most deceptive sins-
it likes to point your finger toward the richer and poorer and blame them for inequality.
Love points your finger, first, at yourself, and then opens your hands for the work set before you.

In spite of a proliferation of meaningless spouting and respouting ideas that are not our own, but sound useful toward our arguments, I project this cluster of ideas.
I believe that the mind of Christ is to heal, to weigh carefully the consequences of our ideologies, and to bring balance to instability.
We have mistakenly put our trust in right and left, believing that we must all run to one side of the ship, lest it tip over in the other direction for the folly of the other side.
Christ sleeps on a cushion in the middle,
in the quiet place, waiting to be awakened.

It seems we have been entrusted with decisions to make in this world, as Adam and Eve were left in care of the garden.
Christ appeared again as a gardener, signifying the profession his followers would take up.
It is time to plant and to build for the future.
Simple answers are given by those who know that fools will follow.
Difficult questions, problems that transcend our current knowledge, are held in the palms of wisdom and truth.

We have the opportunity to step toward the center.
We have the responsibility to abandon our allegiances to those who speak falsely and seek division- to think as freely as we can muster, renewing our minds.
We will be responsible for either the destruction or the reconstitution of human life on this planet.
Come to the center
where Christ is making peace.

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Self Examination

Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  This may seem extreme, and there is another side to the coin; one can spend too much of his or her life examining him or herself and never get to be the person all of that examination was meant to facilitate.  Having mentioned the other side of the coin, let’s flip back over and talk about self examination.

Christ taught that, before becoming concerned with the speck in another’s eye, we should take out the plank in our own, that we may see clearly to help the other remove the speck.

Rumi puts forth a similar challenge,

“Blessed is one who sees his weakness,
and blessed is one who, when he sees a flaw in
someone else, takes responsibility for it.
Because, half of any person
is wrong and weak and off the path.”

Many of us have a tendency, sometimes, to focus on the faults of others that infringe on our constant, mindless self-indulgence.  We are not so quick to confront our own fears and weaknesses; if we could learn to be so rigorous in examining ourselves, I don’t doubt we’d be much more gentle and kind toward others we find stumbling as we know we have.

If we can learn that we’re all viewing each other through smudged, cracked, and discolored lenses, we can seek to remove our worn-out prescriptions, or at least to acknowledge that we may have a speck or two in our eye as well.

This isn’t what I meant to write about, beginning with Socrates’s quote.  I meant to encourage you to take account of your life: what you have experienced, who you have been taught by, what you have learned, where you intend to go, who you want to be.  My parents have told me, “You can’t just skate through life,” but the reality is, you can.  You can live each day, developing rhythms and going through motions and never really, truly think about where you want to go.  This is something that interested parties will exploit.

Just because you may not be asleep, plugged into a giant Matrix machine, doesn’t mean the current state of the world isn’t using your complacency and flow of cash to sustain itself and prevent progress.

To tie it all together, for whoever out there may be reading this, or maybe it’ll just be me, this is a journey to take together.  I will examine myself, and I’ll trust you to take your own account, but we’ll walk together.  You keep telling me your hopes and fears and I’ll tell you that you will succeed, and we’ll both cry the specks out of our eyes.

Relational Responsibility

During my college years, which were last year and the three preceding years, I was involved with the Milledgeville house church.  It was like a Christian campus organization, but it wasn’t affiliated with anyone but the people who chose to come and make it happen.  We met on Tuesday nights, and we straddled the concept of being an event for people to come to and a community of people who did more than just meet on Tuesday night.  It was a somewhat undefined and amorphous thing, and there were many friend groups that comprised the house church, but there seemed to be a cyclical appearance of issues.  Somebody was always upset about something (as you see in most churches and other organizations, for that matter).

The main issue house church people had with house church was not an issue, in my opinion, with the organization of house church, but with individual behavior.  New and younger people involved in the group felt left out and wanted to be invited to stuff.  They were invited to stuff, but no matter what you say or do, these people figure out a way to feel uninvited and unwanted.  There seemed to be a distinction between new people and the established group, the “in group,” as it is sometimes seen (being a house church leader, this distinction seemed to be a perception rather than a reality).

Being home from college and attempting to spend time with friends has been a whole new ball game than college.  It was so much easier then; I’d just walk upstairs or across the hall to hang out with my friends who lived in my house.  This was typically how everyone tended to function, as far as I know, after moving out of the dorms.  Now that I’m back in Atlanta and living at my parents house while I look for a job, I’m not regularly seeing my friends… just my parents.  Every time I have seen a friend (aside from my fiancee), it’s because I established contact and I made a plan to get together with said friend.  The reason I said, “I,” so many times in that sentence was because I want to make my point here…

The responsibility falls on my shoulders to make sure things happen in my life.

I think this applies to everyone: me, you, Old McDonald, everyone.  Our “default settings” seem to take the path of least resistance, which looks like us graduates sitting at home with our parents until we get so stir crazy that we absolutely HAVE to DO SOMETHING.  I’ve only carried out about half the plans with my buddies that I’ve made since being home, but I have only one friend who has taken the initiative to see me…

otherwise it has always been my directive.
So this is what I have to say…

Stop complaining about what someone else is or isn’t doing, get over your insecurities about how people might or might not feel about you, and do what you want to do.  It’s their responsibility to reach out to you and it’s your responsibility to reach out to them, but

you can’t control what I do.

You can only control what you do.  Don’t wait on everyone else to live your life for you.  Part of growing up is learning how to make your own decisions and taking responsibility when other people refuse to.  So let’s all just learn to be better at this, and this issue can cease to exist in the process.