I want you to think for a second about your reaction to a few situations. The first situation is that you get instantly sick and throw up all over the couch at your friend's house. Most of your friends are there, and you are not sure how your stomach could have held that much food. How would you feel? On the flip side think about what it would feel like to be an onlooker. One of your friends just yacked all over in the midst of a good summer hang out. How do you feel for them?
The typical response if the person didn't feel good, is embarrassment. You would feel sad or embarrassed for them or for yourself. If it was you, you might feel ashamed for eating too much. Needless to say there would be no enjoyment out of that situation. People would help and ask if the sick one was feeling better the next day.
The next scenario I want you to imagine is a bit less realistic. You get a phone call one day and the person says, "take off your clothes and continue your normal daily routine."
You laugh and say "yeah right." Then a bullet hits the door next to you and you hear again, "you have embarrassed the wrong person, now you will be embarrassed."
So for the sake of your life you do as they say. You walk into work or school naked. Any time you hesitate a bullet hits nearby, reminding you of the sniper's presence. Sheer terror flows through your body, yet you are completely ashamed walking around like that. Again you most likely would feel embarrassed.
So what do these analogies have to do with anything? How can I possibly tie this back to the topic of community that we have been talking about? Simple...
Add one thing to the puke story and it changes everything: alcohol. Shift the setting of the second story, make it streaking because you are drunk and someone dared you. All of a sudden the situations become funny, entertainment, and the event of the weekend. One way is horrible. The other is normal. So why do people find it ok to do those sort of things at parties? These acts of individuals, if done sober and in public, would be considered awful.
Drunken parties are a community. People have a deep desire to be part of community. These arenas where you can do whatever you want and blame it on alcohol are perfect for anyone to feel accepted. The shyest person can show up to a party, get trashed and become popular (whether good or just the butt of jokes) with one stupid act. People desire non-judgmental community. You cannot judge others when you are doing dumb things too. But God intended us to be non-judgmental in Christian community. We must show the world they don't have to do shameful things in order to be accepted. "
"Judge not, or you too will be judged." Matthew 7:1
"Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character."
-I Corinthians 15:33
After talking about one of my favorite subjects of community, I began to connect more of the pieces of the puzzle to the benefits of Christian brother/sisterhood. Though I do not personally believe we evolved from a lesser species, I do think we have a tendency as humans to want to blend in with our surroundings. We have a chameleon nature about us, wanting mostly to avoid danger and eat our share of the food, breath our share of the oxygen. We tend to shift our existence around pleasing others or ourselves.
So why is it so important to be around like minded believers regularly? We all are connected to a community of some sort, whether Facebook, church, Twitter, or any club one could possibly join. Most will seek out community, even if it is just a few members of their own family. Once this community is found or formed, the members connect. Though one cannot choose their family, most still tend towards being similar to their family. All this to say, the probability of becoming like those you are around most is very high.
Everyone is different. I am not sure if you have noticed this yet or not. But they are. So if people who are around each other the most become like each other, why are we all still so different? I do not want to share words, thoughts or intentions of God as if they are fact, for I cannot know the full extent of them, but here is my perspective: God made us each unique, so that as a whole, we represent what He is/loves. How can we possible show the world who God is? Each individual can show wonderful glimpses of God, but the whole Body of Christ reflects God.
Yes we are sinful. Yes we are broken. God uses us anyway. One of Satan's greatest victories has been in dividing the church. If the Body of Christ pooled their resources on a local level, they could accomplish unthinkable feats. Now imagine the potential of a global connectivity of Christians pooling their talents, gifts, resources, and will. I have seen small groups of teenagers do phenomenal things when they got inspired to accomplish God's work. What could we do as a whole? A body missing parts does not function as well. It still works, but not to maximum potential. Let us be the best at what/who we are. Be the best finger, or toe, or elbow skin you can possibly be. We won't be the same without you.
Every once in a while we come across concepts that blow our minds. I have one of those for you:
If you and I both looked at the same strawberry we would probably agree that the color of it is red. Why do we both agree that what we are looking at is the same? The answer is that we have both been told our whole lives that the title of the color of the strawberry is red. How do we know though that we see the same color? What if my color spectrum is flipped? What if my eyes actually reported to my brain a blue color for everything that was red. How would I ever know? How does one know what the other person actually sees?
The answer is we don't know. If I saw the world in negatives like the picture above, I would not know the difference unless someone could see the world through my eyes. This is where a person's "worldview" comes into play. Most of us never try to think outside of our own worldview, even though we might have a skewed perspective from what the rest of the world sees. In fact, we all have a skewed perspective.
The situations and events that occur during our life shape how we see new situations. No two people see every situation the exact same way. Some people may think very similarly, but not exactly the same. Once we begin to understand that simple fact, we can start to view situations differently. The hard fact to swallow as a Christian is that we are not the main character in the story God is telling.
Here is a confusion statement at first glance: God is NOT the author and perfecter of our lives. We are not the hero/heroine in the story. We are merely role players. He IS the author and perfecter of our faith. Our faith is a small part of God's overall redemption story. He redeemed us from our brokenness, and gives us guidance to perfect our faith through His word. Our goal should not be for a perfect life, but perfect faith. Lest we forget: Jesus is the hero. Jesus is the main character.
So as we go about life inevitably interacting with other people, just remember they, as well as you, have a skewed view of the world. God is the only one who can perfectly see the big picture. Let us take a step back from ourselves and try to see the world through God's eyes. It will inspire you. It will free you from giving others the ability to hurt you. It might even help you see God. But it might scare you. Let it.
What if these colors were all I ever saw...
"Do not have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." - II Timothy 2:23
It is amazing to me how millions of uninformed people have loud verbal OPINIONS of political happenings (I am also guilty of a lack of knowledge in politics). I am as passionate as the next guy about getting this once great country back to the standings of days since past. America was once the source of hope worldwide. It was built on the foundations of freedom and liberty, rooted in Christian morals and work ethic. Much has changed since those days of old.
I hear stories of the old days when teenagers worked full time in brutal factories to support their family. I read the Federalist Papers from America's founding generation that were written to the commoners, knowing the majority of Americans today couldn't understand most of it. I see political debates today that thousands on Twitter and Facebook voice what they believe to be right. But I see no change. At least no change for the better.
How many of us still stick to the standards of "if you won't work, you won't eat"? How many of us spend time learning what the Constitution or Declaration of Independence says? And how many of us know what God says about how we should live? I hear far more foolish and stupid arguments today than I see people trying to do something that will actually help our current situation. We (myself included) spend more time complaining and arguing than doing and learning. I am equally frustrated with my own lack of Constitutional knowledge as I am with the political vomit on the web. The fact is our strong religious foundations are on the fringe of vanishing in the United States. Our country that gave us the freedom to be this complacent is falling quickly.
I am NOT trying to have a political debate on here. I am calling my fellow Americans to (figuratively) pick up arms and fight for freedom. But more than that I am asking Christians to stop the chatter and start the learning. Know your Bible, your government, your rights. Then fight.
The picture is round two of "I want you"... but this time from Uncle Duncan, not Uncle Sam.