Feb 11, 2008

fearful tactics - pt 4

There's something rather scary and revealing about this shirt, isn't there? I'm sure you've seen your fair share of these witty 100% cotton human-shaped billboards, and maybe you've worn your fair share of them, too. I remember back in my high school daze days having such a great selection of false attitude (what I call them) bumper stickers, hats, painters caps (because, yes... it was the 80's), and t-shirts that conveyed how sharp I thought I was.

Or rather, wanted to be.

Maybe the most revealing day for me was when during my junior high years I found myself at a local hardware store. I normally wouldn't frequent such a place during my tweener years, but I'd won a gift certificate for about $10 in merchandise through a local radio station. (Yes... that is odd in itself, yet nonetheless I found myself walking the aisles of Ace Hardware.) For the longest time I didn't know what to buy, but then finally I came upon the sign section - you know, where you purchase signs for your house/fence/etc - and I knew I'd hit the jackpot.

Because that makes sense on a junior high guy's door.

Sound familiar?

In my mind, I believed that by simply putting these things up on my door I'd gained power. Suddenly my parents couldn't just walk into my room anymore, lest they be met with "prosecution." There was now a very clear line that I had put up... and I felt safe behind it. I could do/say/think whatever I wanted - eat Cheetos, play on my Commodore 64 all night, crank call KFC employees with bad jokes about chicken breasts - whatever.

Until someone walked in.


And so I put a lock on the door... or rather, I had my dad put a lock on the door because I didn't know how. So he did, and once again I felt safe. Now an even clearer line had been put up.

Until someone walked in.


"What?!?!" I exclaimed. "How did you get in?"

Apparently all you needed to manipulate the lock open on the other side was a butter knife.

A butter knife.

A stinkin' butter knife.

Have you ever stopped to think of the insecurity of the "security" you and I manufacture in order to gain a sense of control?

Recently I read about Joel Stein, the noted LA Times writer who spun out some thoughts on heaven that made their way unto a controversial Starbucks cup. In one of his 2007 columns, Stein told readers they were wasting their time by emailing him opposing thoughts. He said, “I don’t want to talk to you; I want to talk at you. A column is not my attempt to engage in a conversation with you. I have more than enough people to converse with. And I don’t listen to them either.”

This is something many people of all schools of thought - liberals / moderates / conservatives alike - all have in common. Just watch the potitical debates and you'll see it, with more and more people looking for things to say about someone (to look bigger) instead of sitting down and conversing with that person to share ideas. It's like we're trying to create this big smoke image of ourselves sometimes... we are in that place of insecurity and figure if we put up a few signs we can do whatever we want behind closed doors and never get busted on it.

And then one day someone uses a butter knife and walks right into our world.

I think this is why the sovereignty of God is so hard to navigate... and why so many of us respond with withdrawing when someone/something/God calls us out on an issue. Ultimately He gets the last word on everything which doesn't fly well for many people, including Christians. Imagine having your faith all figured out and then suddenly Jesus pries open your door with a butter knife.

A stinkin' butter knife.

Embarassment, I think, is when one of your curtains or doors is opened and you are afraid that what people see is unlikeable... that "you without your mask" is like some sort of Wizard of Oz moment where all the intelligent sounding smoke and mirrors gets revealed as a tiny little man behind the curtain.

Which is perhaps why heaven is so intriguing... inviting in one sense and intimidating in another. Heaven requires no such masks, and perhaps that in itself makes us quite uncomfortable at times. Yet in the same breath don't you breathe in a sigh of relief that that God really does have the last word?

Or maybe not.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:21-23)

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)


heather said...

One of my favorite lyrics:
"To being an us for once/Instead of a them" (from Rent, "La Vie Boheme") because I got tired of being a them.
Being an us is great.
As long as it's only us. No them.
I love to stand on my corner praying, "Thank you, God, for not making me like them, like those who judge and exclude."

Tony Myles said...

Never saw Rent, but that's a powerful lyric. Very appropriate to this dicussion, Heather. Thanks for that tip.