"A man connected to God is, among other things, humble, “thinking of others as better than [themselves]” (Philippians 2:3). He does not go out of his way to insult others. When he pledges himself to God’s service, he realizes he is but a small part of God’s plan, working in connection with others to fulfill that plan." - Examiner
A few years back, in an editorial for the Kokomo Tribune, in a series about “social connectedness,” I mentioned what I call the “anonymous lifestyle.” Now I would like to use that concept as a jumping board for another issue: the “control obsession.”
People often gravitate to an anonymous lifestyle, one in which they can melt into the crowd, one in which the worker bees work, the Queen sits on the eggs, and everything is regimented and orderly. Behind this quest for specialty, organization, and planning is the fear of revealing too much about our humanity, a discomfort with being an imperfect, sinful and sometimes incompetent human. Concealing ourselves means we focus only on our function.
Militaries have exploited this concept for decades. A soldier is no longer a human being from a family with ma and pa; he is a G.I., Government Issue, a son of the republic. Communism capitalized on this idea as well, even removing children from their homes at age 2 for training, returning them to parents for weekends only (as Cuba did during Castro’s heyday). If we can become a cog in the machinery, a gear in the transmission, or a washer holding on a bolt, we somehow sense that humanity—ours included—is either under control or at least hidden from view. We feel secure.
But camouflaging ourselves in the crowd is only one of many “control” techniques.
(*or organic food, essential oils, education, health care, immigration, soteriology, eschatology…)
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that there have been several outbreaks of measles across the United States recently. Not surprisingly, this has led to vigorous (if not often, one-dimensional) debate about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccinations. And all I have to say to CNN, FOX, NPR, and every other news outlet that is now covering this story: Y’all are late to the party. We mamas have been debating this for years.
I remember the first time I realized that the questions surrounding vaccines were more than theoretical. I was visiting a friend when she opened her freezer to get some ice. There, sitting next to a chub of frozen hamburger, was a tray of lab vials. When I asked about them, she casually replied, “Oh, those are my kids’ vaccines. I ordered them from XYZ instead of the standard ones. My doctor said he would administer them if I bought them and stored them myself.”
"Pride is not something only us storytellers struggle with, but our American/Western culture as a whole. We are such a proud people. We are so proud we have made pride a positive character trait. We have religions, both Christian based and pagan, that worship pride, accomplishment, and self. It’s all about you."
Just over a week ago, an EF-5 tornado cut a mile-wide furrow through Oklahoma leaving death and devastation behind. Monday night, over 1100 miles away, I tucked my eight-year-old daughter into bed. As we normally do, we prayed together before she fell asleep. She wanted to continue to pray for “the tragedies in Boston and Connecticut” and then innocently asked if there were any more tragedies that we needed to pray for.
As I struggled to find words to tell her that, yes, in fact, there had been a tragedy just that afternoon, I realized how quickly she was losing her innocence. How quickly she would have to learn that tragedy is a recurring theme of this life; how quickly she would learn that some weeks you feel like you’re being pummeled again and again by the brokenness around you.
And yet, learning how to engage tragedy is one of the defining marks of maturity.
Casting Crowns popularized a song titled, “In Me.” Some of the lyrics follow:
How refreshing to know You don’t need me.
How amazing to find that You want me.
So I’ll stand on Your truth, and I’ll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory, by the power of Christ in me.
I was impressed at the depth of these lyrics. They serve as a jumping board for my topic: He is God and we are not. Hopefully, these thoughts will serve as a tonic to remedy a popular—but weakened—view of God.
The first principle suggested by the song is that God does not need us, but we need Him. The Scriptures are clear on this:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (ESV, Acts 17:24-25)