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Prophetic Endurance

Who is the Neck?

I have seen many institutional reforms. They often created all sorts of commissions and councils. Have we noticed many results? You do not correct a bad book by changing the binding or the paper . . . What we urgently need is to start looking again at everything with the eyes of faith. By reforming institutions non-stop, you maintain the illusion that the important thing is what we are doing, our human action, which we regard as the only effective measure. This type of reform, therefore, only shifts the problem. 


Atheist civilizations inevitably lose the metaphysical sense. Transcendent realities are foreign to them. Man now thinks he is sufficiently powerful to take his destiny in hand by himself.

Modern man wants nothing more to do with his Creator. And so he tramples the moral laws little by little, only to replace them with so-called democratic rules of law. The most rudimentary desires become the measure of everything. The majority, often represented by the parliamentary power of the States and manipulated by the powerful media, little by little rewrites the moral norm.  

Robert Cardinal Sarah, The Day Is Now Far Spent


What is the plague of transparency referred to by Sarah in his book The Day Is now Far Spent ? Has our practice of revealing things about ourselves or our businesses led us to be deceived about what is integrity. There is a demand to make things known to the public. Even political figures like the president have details about their health status revealed as a matter of course to everyone. This is supposed to determine if they are fit; and in their own protection, so they are not overworked. Their medical reports are made known by the media to everyone. But they are also paid for that invasive inconvenience by their triple figure incomes. Being secretive is not highly regarded.     

Let us talk together: let us consider the matter. There is a marked difference between transparency and intimacy. In times where the spiritual trend is to expose oneself, by revealing your shortcomings and sins to others so you feel at home and gain acceptance, there is a real need to seek Jesus' advice in this matter. There is a danger in letting it all hang out, in not keeping up appearances to outsiders. They will use their knowledge to bring you down. There is a real spirit of competition in secular society that makes people like hunters, looking for your weak spot. Don't disclose your secrets or you may as well expose your neck. The neck needs to be protected or a wild dog may go for the jugular. This expression brings to mind the vulnerabilities of the human body, but also the vulnerabilities of the spiritual one. If we are all a part of the body, who or what is the neck? The neck is the reputation of the body of Christ. If a secular attacker goes for the neck, he may bring the whole body down. We must protect our weakest points with not only armour but discretion.

The neck, or the reputation is being attacked whenever people criticize, or condemn the body of Christ based on behaviour. The current use of behaviour modification to correct everyone is deadly to the modern Christian. People want others to have normal schedules, eat at certain times, eat certain normal foods, and work a 40 hour week. They project and demand their expectations for normalicy be met. Where this comes from is the social norms that govern the middle class of North America. Social work also enforces these social norms. They are not necessarily bad in and of themselves, but they stray away from doing everything by listening to the Holy Spirit, or even being in tune with yourself, and having the wholesome practice of listening to your body. It is when we insist everyone else do the same as us, and that all society must conform to our expectations that we are angry and frustrated. There are people I call "free radicals" walking around who just won't conform, and precipitate out of solution at the slightest provocation to let you know. You are kind of hoping you won't meet one today.

The average family is expected to go to work, pay their bills, and put their children in school, in addition to having healthy meals, and regular mealtimes. Parenting is expected to conform to the expectations of schools, doctors, experts and institutions. When Christian enter society, they should realize these things are already in place; our priorities and behaviour may not match the norm. Who goes around giving out prophetic words, and looking for divine appointments? Who goes around doing servant evangelism, and giving out free brochures at the park or free coffee at the mall. I have seen committed Christians doing both.

Secular people use very different standard to bureaucratize behaviour and goals, usually to non-Christians, but they may aim it at you, They typically use insults, to the point of being degrading, or put you in your place (should you get out of it), or compliment you if you do the right thing, and give you warm fuzzies. There is also the stars and dots mentality coming from the book You Are Special by Max Lucado. It teaches us that when we do things or be someone, society gives us either a dot or a star. Dots can build up and lead to poor self esteem and the feeling of worthlessness. We hope in life naturally to receive commendation from people in the form of lots of stars.

The nature of knowing Christ is to refuse either stars or dots, by spending time with him. This is my working definition of intimacy. The more time we spend with Jesus, and the closer we dwell to his presence the closer we get to other Christians. It really does not work to try to get close to them to get to know them, as they have issues that would keep us at arms' length. This was a profound concept I discovered through fasting, as I was writing one day. Seeking intimacy with God brings us into communion with other believers. Seeking God is kind of like having a new pen and a clean crisp notebook full of lined paper.

As for secular punitive measures, dots and stars: this is the kind of up and down thing you see with celebrities on Entertainment Tonight; one day they are popular for giving back, the next day they are in the bad books for assaulting a fan or ending in rehab. Their social feedback varies from minute to minute with the comments on social media, so they can change their behaviour, based on criticism, to suit everyone. It strikes us as ridiculous when we know Christ, yet it occurs.

As a working definition from the social work profession: "behaviour" is only defined as behaviour if someone else is present. What we do when alone is usually entirely our business. If no one sees it and witnesses it, it never happened. The only problem with this is some people stoop to entrapment, to witness behaviour, even causing it (i.e. provoking free radicals) so they can stick them with consequences. The end result is everyone can be triggered by something or some word of discouragement (criticism) and react, even in public. Although we would like to hide the shame behind closed doors, we find ourselves being pushed to the nth degree by others in society. It is a very detailed and complicated idea to entrap someone to act differently than the social norm so we can imprison or use behaviour modification on them. A free radical predator would probably have to plan it out in advance.

The alternate is to employ an antioxidant like reality, neutralizing free radicals that don't follow the social norm and are triggered by our controlling efforts to make everyone act normal. I have always had the perspective, in teaching other health professionals and dietitians, to avoid behaviour modification as a rule. Making nutritional changes, what a nutritionist does, should not be about adding more control, or that you now control them. Is there something better? Using a sense of humour and laughing at the person if they do something wrong, is a gentle correction that makes them also able to laugh at themselves. I know people have come around to healing in my office when they begin to laugh, not only at their illness but at themselves.

Laughing in a good natured way takes the stress and punitive nature of control away, which needs more and more force to enforce. People with this characteristic think if you don't do what they want or say, they will call the police. Someone with a gun will make you, they think? The need for a real revolution in conflict resolution is here and now. We need to have conflict resolution people in every police department to enforce to the community that every conflict requiring police is an opportunity to engage in conflict resolution. I am currently recommending to four police departments to do this: to have a person available to the public to resolve disputes who is trained with the Justice Institute's course on conflict resolution. Some of us in Abbotsford have learned the hard way what happens if we don't engage in peaceful resolution, instead of using force on others. There are vulnerable sectors in society that could really suffer.

What it boiled down to is that we as Christians are controlled and possessed by the Holy Spirit. This affects all our choices, priorities, and actions throughout the day. We avoid controlling secular forces in society that lead to addiction, and bondage. Secular people who don't know Jesus, are under the influence. It is an influence that demands every aspect of their lives be regulated and controlled by fear. They respond to condemnation and guilt. They are led by force, and threats. They expect for wrong moves, punishment. What a way to live.

Let's not think like secular people and enforce this on others who are our brothers and sisters in Christ or they may question our authenticity. The beauty that lies within us is brought out by our imperfections. It was a diamond in the rough. We are polished by suffering and martyrdom not by routine and correction.

 

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