Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Here's Where I'm At"

At any given time, when we conclude, “Here’s where I’m at,” we can’t then expect everyone else to be “where I’m at.”

Whether it’s a theological point of view, stage of life, conservative/liberal bent, fan of warm weather, fan of cold weather, meat-eater or vegetarian, everyone is “where they’re at.” And while there does need to be some sensitivity to “where people are at” on our part, it follows then that there needs to also be some sensitivity on the other person’s part to where I’m at. Oftentimes, all parties involved simply want others to conform to where they’re at and bulldoze accordingly.

Why do we have tunnel vision when it comes to where we’ve landed on something, as if there were never any other place to land (even though we ourselves were once planted in an entirely different point of view, behavior or mindset?) I believe the number one reason is because we feel threatened. We feel threatened that the other person is going to land or remain in a previous (now deemed odious), place that we’ve managed to escape from, or our identity is tied up in the new place we’ve landed. So when our identity is challenged, who we are is challenged. And that feels threatening.

To be threatened is the feeling that our experience up to this point, which has formed our outlook and understanding on myriad aspects of life, from automobile design, politics, faith, healthcare, the environment, and diet, is being denigrated, belittled or rejected. And the reason it’s being rejected is because the other person’s experience, which has formed their outlook and understanding on the same myriad aspects of life, is being threatened by our experienced-based understanding!

And so it is a vicious circle. People with less/more or different experience are “hurt” or "offended" by those with less/more or different experience and yet all feel their experience is truth itself: the only legitimate place to land.

Hence the danger of experienced-based faith. That is exactly what all of this can lead to, making us no different in our Christian walk than we were when we were not-yet-saved.

Much of life is subjective, but faith is not. Faith contains experience but is not determined by experience. Faith is shaped and influenced by experience, but it is the objectiveness of faith that rights a misguided or off-base experiential faith conclusion.

If I base my attitudes, behaviors and actions on experience alone (or even primarily), I will neglect the other possibilities of how things experientially can be. I will be living a false “truth” that, since it is only experientially “true for me,” doesn’t make it objectively true for all. So I will be stuck in my subjective experience, never reaching objective truth.

However, if my identity is not tied up in where I’ve landed but in a Person—as C.S. Lewis says in describing how he found joy in the Person of God and not in the concept of joy itself—then there is no threat to my identity. If my identity is in the Triune God, then when His truth as I live it, represent it or teach it is challenged, questioned or threatened—rightly or wrongly—God is there for me to come to for proper feedback and consideration. Seeking God’s perspective through His Holy Spirit and Word is the key to preventing shouting matches, “hurt” feelings and the wholesale writing off of people.

So much—too much—of me goes into my perception of any event, person or place. As any journalist or court of law can tell you, question five witnesses to the same incident and you will obtain five different records of what actually took place. Truth is a very difficult place to land...when it’s based on a human level, that is.

And now we come to why it is that I love being a Christian! I can subjectively experience people, places and things and then take them before the Lord for discernment, wisdom and appropriate response. I can lay the subjective against the objective ("test everything" 1 Thessalonians 5:21). My self-centered subjectivity can shrink more and more from a “me” perspective to a “standing in other's shoes” perspective. I am freed, and in fact expected, to jettison my meager, pitiful, human, self-centered, subjective-experience-tainted take-aways of anything and anyone.

As Christians become sanctified in the knowledge and wisdom of God, we will interpret life less and less and God will interpret it more and more. We will hear Him say, “Don’t over-react;” “That person did not intend what you thought;” “Maybe your co-worker is going through something personalsome internal battle that you can’t even imagine and nobody else knows about;” and on and on it goes.

God teaches, in fact compels me to live in His presence in the present. And because He is God, He will give a right perspective when I cannot or will not.

Only then can I confidently land where God lands me, and not be threatened by where someone else is in the process of landing or has already landed.

“For You are my hope; 
O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.” Psalm 71:5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” 1 Peter 2:1-3

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