Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Plagues that kill the church: (4) Amputated Leg

I wonder why we "fight and flight". If you don't understand my question, go back to your teen years and unearth a memory when you got into a fight with your mom and dad. It was probably during the time when you fell in love with someone they were totally against of, or when you felt they were controlling your time 24/7. Or perhaps the time when you had an intellectual discourse with a church mate that resulted to a heated argument. You said some harsh words and partnered them with a thud and a bang. However, when you realized it was leading you nowhere, you decided to give up and keep your mouth shut, or worse, you ran away. You escaped.

Fighting and flighting are but natural to survive. Sometimes when faced with a frightening and stronger creature, we cover up our weakness with anger and aggression. We can't bear to lose because doing so, we might be stripped off of power and control, we might be stepped on and eaten up. We don't want to become the weakling who is the last to get food and the first to die. We want to be better than the rest that's why we show we are much stronger than who we really are.

Other times, when we feel like we're about to be attacked, we escape. We can't bear the feeling of being treated like a nobody, a loser or worst of all, a sinner. We can't let a sister know about our weak spot. She might just mock us because of the sinful habits we dare not confess. Before anyone gets an inkling of our impure relationships, our lustful thoughts, or wrongful motives, we leave the church and hide our little secret.

The fight and flight movement may be normal in the concept of "survival of the fittest" but it is not part of how God intended the church to be. In God's design the church has no big or small creature, no Americans, no Filipinos, no Baptists, no Reformed. It's just one big body. We do not really "coexist." We are brothers and sisters called through the blood of Christ to be ONE. In Ephesians 4, Paul says that we are part of "one body, one spirit, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father of all."

Being part of one body, an eye would not pick a fight with another eye and say, "Hey, I have a better vision than you. I don't need you at all. What you see are all nonsense. Bleh!" Nor a hand would say to the other, "I have all the jewelries and you're the one doing all the work. Ha!" We do not coexist to fight, intimidate or compete with one another.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, it would also be meaningless to escape. We are not created to live independently. If you were a leg, the only way you'd be separated from the Body of Christ is when you get amputated. If you deliberately cut yourself from being part of and being used by the body. Probably because you want to become your own body, you want to be your own leg. You think you can hop the race of life without the eyes to see the humps, mind to help discern the path, nourishment from the body. Just be careful, it might lead you to a different finish line. Death.

Thinking about it, fighting and flighting have one thing in common: they are divisive. They aim to cut something out, or be cut off. They cultivate, preserve or exalt the self. This is actually the basic definition of pride. And this plague kills the church.

Pride is "the summit of self-love" that is quite dangerous if we let it grow in our system. It blinds our understanding, and unless something finally makes us realize the truth, we are liable to go on, day after day, in a spiritual self-delusion, imagining our acts to be good that we have no room for change or growth. With pride, we forget that we need each and every ( not some, not most, not only the mature) member of the body to survive. We are brought together to work for a common mission.

Paul describes the members of the body in Ephesians 5 this way, "no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body." I remember when I had a toothache a few weeks ago, majority of my time was devoted to thinking and praying for my rebelling tooth. I didn't want to have it taken out. I'd rather experience moments of agony and chastening to keep it. Likewise in the body, we should also devote our time to pray for and to help the weak, the sinful, the rebellious and the painful people. We have to "bear with one another," to support and empathize the aching tooth, to rest a while for the weary feet, to encourage and beautify the wrinkled eye.

It is really tempting to fight against our nagging mom or flee from the nosy church. Sinners that we are, it is easier to love ourselves than love other people. Only when we kill our pride or deny our own self, will we be able to unite with the rest of the body and live out Christ's (not ours, but Christ's) purpose.

God bless family!

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