This Is Me

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"peer" pressure

I recently wrote about peer pressure on a message board for the youth group I help out with. I know I didn't elaborate on some things I could have, but it was sort of off-the-cuff. Here it is if you are interested:

I think "peer" pressure is hard, not when people are trying to convince you to do something, that's the easiest "peer" pressure to not give in to, but when it is an in-grained lifestyle to everyone else around, so in-grained that they have no glimmer that anyone could consider it wrong and so they just expect you to do whatever it is. Usually, it's not even that they'll make fun of you, it's that they'll think about you and look at you in the same way they would someone who said they live in an upside-down house - you're just sort of...strange. And then you're never quite one of them and you know it and they don't really KNOW it, they just never invite you to the things they do everyone else or hang out with you etc. And usually it's not one thing like "I don't get drunk" or "I don't have pre-marital sex" it's that all those things that you are just make you a completely different person. "peer" pressure is hard when you're young, but the pressure itself doesn't change when you get older, although you begin to understand more what kind of person you are. I think it gets harder. As hard as it sounds, you CAN walk away from the friends who are pressuring you - at least put some distance in there if they are influencing you to do things you feel you shouldn't - but what happens when you have goen through college, gotten a great career, know you're lucky to have the job you do, and you get "peer" pressure there? And it's worse when it's from a boss who can decide whether or not you or someone else gets a promotion or raise. Do you think it will be the person they feel distant from or the person who they go out and get drunk with and are good buddies with? Or maybe to be "one of the team" it's not even that you have to do something against your morals, you just don't put first what you should. Maybe you have to go to play on the company team instead of spending time with your family that you should for example.

Also, how many of you have ever felt frustrated with someone (probably it will be your mother) who always has to make sure that appearances are good (the house is super clean, you never fight in public etc) You will start (or continue) to feel pressure to at least LOOK perfect from the outside. And this tends to get worse at church. Not only do you have to look perfect - you've got to look "spiritual" too. I think sometimes adults try to believe that "peer" pressure is only something teenagers go through or it's only when a group of people are trying to convince you to get drunk or high or have sex outside of wedlock. This is not true, and I think we're trying to convince ourselves so hard about this so that we can conform without feeling guilty. Making sure appearances are always good are another part of "peer" pressure. And I conform to this every Monday night before women come over to my house when I clean like a mad woman so people won't know that usually my socks are thrown in the corner and my dishes are dirty. Thsi can be simply not wanting your guests to feel uncomfortable amongst your mess, but I think we have all seen when this has been an unholy passion to make others think better about you because you "have it together."

Your entire life people are going to try to convince you to conform - in ways that are sinful and in ways that don't seem to be sinful at all but just aren't - you. Sometimes you will feel you have to do this or that so people don't think you're...strange. Sometimes you'll automatically do things without thinking because everyone around you is and you don't want to get that "so-you're-living-in-an-upside-down-house" look. But "peer" pressure is maybe so powerful because it's based on something....GOOD. God meant to place people together in communities. These communities were meant to be supportive. This means, you're supported and encouraged to live as God would want you to. Community was meant to be...powerful. After all, the church all together, the community of believers is the BRIDE OF CHRIST. When people did things contrary to what believers should do and continued to do them despite warnings and the community trying to exert "positive" peer pressure they were supposed to be let loose from the community of believers (1 Cor 5) If that's not peer pressure, let me know what is! However, while we as Christians are supposed to have a powerful counter-culture, one that would help keep us from the pressures of the world (as we support and encourage one another to live as Christ wants us to), instead we are still caught in the fear of man. That's all "peer" pressure is - the fear of man. In one form or another. Whether it's your friends, co-workers, teachers, or even people who are supposed to be or should be positive in your life like your boss or your pastor, if you are doing anything out of a fear of man, you are sinning. We as Christians are supposed to fear God only (opening up a bag of worms I know - this "fear of God" can be much debated itself). We are not even supposed to fear death. Often what happens with this fear of man is that we feel we have to hide what we really are, who we really are and be like everyone else. My mentor once told me "As we grow closer to God we do not become more similar to each other, we become more different from each other." This is because in the world we conform - in God we become the unique people He wanted us to be. We have freedom! Unfortunately often even in the church people are chastised, whether verbally or not, for being "different."

I guess I would encourage you today to look beyond "peer" pressure. Don't think only about how people are trying to convince you to do sinful things, think also about ways in which you are conforming your personality or any other facet of yourself (even your spiritual gifts) to what other people expect of you. This does not mean going out and being the caustic and sarcastic person you knwo you are because being nice just isn't "you", but this does mean careful analysis of who you are and in what ways you may be conforming out of fear that others will look at you like you live in an upside-down house.

oh yeah - and go eat eggplant because everyone else is doing it. You know you want to.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

a picture of us

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Meredith Update

PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!!

For all those who've been praying for Meredith, the test results from her scan yesterday came back with good news! There is only a tiny spot on her spine and another tiny spot left on her lower back. The huge tumor that was in her hip is completely gone! PTL! Dr. Milder wants her to continue out her chemotherapy treatments (so she has 3 more after today) and then the radiation treatment. Remember we had heard only 25%-50% chance of recovery and now it looks pretty certain.

God is so good!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In response to Tealizzy and Mr. Gugg on Spiritual Dependence REMIX

I think the crux of the matter is that I believe respect, guidance, and even obedience are all very different from spiritual dependence.

Mr. Gugg says, “It is interesting to me to note that, as my wife pointed out, Christ does not, throughout this entire diatribe against the Pharisees, attack their authority to teach, but rather their abuse of that authority. The problem is not the existence of spiritual authority within the Church, but rather the usurpation of that authority for self-aggrandizement rather than service.”

I agree with this. The problem as I see it is that very frequently this usurpation of authority DOES happen and that most Christians go along with it and become spiritually dependent upon a person in instances where they should be spiritually dependent upon Christ instead. What is even worse is that often these very people usurping authority think that they ARE serving God and do not even realize that they are doing many a disservice in taking more spiritual authority than God gave them and in making the very people they think they are serving so spiritually dependent upon them that they are stunting their spiritual growth. Another outcome of this is that they begin (or started out) viewing themselves as higher than they ought. Christ remarks:

“You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
(Mark 10:42-25)

I think something very natural has happened in the church, which is, that we think about leadership the same way the world does. Unfortunately, what is natural is not good and the philosophy of the world in this case is absolutely devastating.I also somehow doubt that John Stott does not agree with respecting people, going to them for guidance, or maybe even obeying church leaders (although that one is more controversial, so I am not certain.) For one, nothing he has written that I have ever read would suggest that and two, he is Anglican, so I think he probably pretty firmly believes in church leadership.

I do think you (Tealizzy) are very lucky to have rarely seen Christians spiritually dependent on their pastors, priests, or other church leaders. I have noticed too much how many people unhealthily depend on their pastors and other church leaders to the extent that Christ as their head is replaced by their pastor as their head. This goes varies from extreme to being very subtle, but both are sick. I do not think I am imagining either, because I have held several conversations with others who have noticed this as well.I do know Paul refers to himself as a spiritual father (I don’t remember to which church), but I believe that statement cannot be interpreted apart from Christ himself saying (just a few verses after saying to obey those who sit in the seat of Moses) [paraphrased] "Call no one Rabbi [except Christ] and call no one Father except God." (Matt 23:7-10). I do not remember the specifics of why Paul was calling a church his spiritual children, but I cannot think that it was their spiritual dependency upon him, because it seems pretty clear that Christ alone is our rabbi (teacher) and God the father alone is our father (our head that we are spiritually dependent upon). God gives some to be shepherds (or pastors) of the body, and elders (leaders who make decisions for the body), but I don’t think anyone is supposed to be our head but Christ, or our spiritual father, except God the father. I think it is more likely that Paul was discussing a sort of spiritual “generational transfer” of the gospel. He believed and passed it onto them and they believed, acting as their father in that he was the messenger through which the gospel came, and also because he was then their shepherd, gently (or not so much, knowing Paul):-) showing them the path to being true “followers of the Way.” However, since I cannot find that darn passage, I cannot remark on it overmuch. Only that I am not going to take it to mean something that I see as contradicting what Jesus himself has said.

Again, I would also say that obedience and dependence are two entirely separate things. Paul and Peter both say to be obedient to our government and to the specific people who hold power in our government, but I very much doubt either would say to be dependent (spiritually or otherwise) upon our government. Also, I very much doubt either of us are currently obedient to those who "sit in the seat of Moses", as we do not obey Pharisees and scribes today. I think you might be hard-pressed to tie the seat of Moses to any contemporary church leader. And even then, later in that same passage he says not to call them “rabbi” or “father”, illustrating that obedience to one in authority is quite different from giving him the respect or authority due God alone.

In addition to the scripture in Hebrews mentioned by Mr. Gugg, I think either Paul or Peter did write a passage that is about obeying those in authority over you that can be interpreted to mean church as well as government leaders, but I do not think that means that any church leader today sits in the seat of Moses. If you know of another verse that discusses this though, let me know. This does not mean I necessarily believe that we should all be disobedient to our church leaders; I think, depending on the circumstance, that that action would be the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the foot. God put those people over us for a reason after all. (The circumstances I can think of if it went against my conscience. Of course, my question is this, “Who IS in spiritual authority over me?” rather than “Should I obey those in spiritual authority over me?”)

The verse in Hebrews does talk about obedience and even submission, but all Christians are called to submit to one another (1 Peter 5:5) anyway. I do agree we are supposed to obey those in authority, but again I think this is very different from spiritual dependence.

I believe as well as Mr. Gugg that leadership is a position of sacrifice and that only when leadership goes wrong is it bad, but I think it frequently does.

Um, I think I answered the questions, but let me know if I did not.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More pictures of my favorite man

Pictures of my fiance

People have been requesting pictures of Jeremiah. These are all from last summer when Sally was around with her digital camera and Jeremiah was still trying to woo me (although I didn't know) so he didn't flip her off (mostly) when she tried to take pictures of him:-)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Manliness and Jane Austen

This is my friend Somerville's amusing soliliquay on how manly men like Jane Austen and still retain use of the remote control during football season. Go Somerville! JA is manly if you look through at it with certain eyes.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

False Independence by John R.W. Stott

The Pharisees loved to be given deferential titles. It flattered them. It gave them a sense of superiority over other people. In contrast to them, Jesus said that there were three titles his disciples were not to assume or be given, 'Rabbi' (that is, teacher), 'father' and 'master'. What did Jesus mean by it?

Well, the father exercises authority over his children by reason of the fact that they depend on him. I suggest that what Jesus is saying is that we are never to adopt towards a fellow man in the church the attitude of dependence which a child has towards his father, nor are we to require others to be or become spiritually dependent upon us. [bold added] That this is what Jesus intended is confirmed by the reason he gives, namely 'for you have one Father, who is in heaven'. - John R.W. Stott

I would add to that since Christ is the head of the church, we should not have any other head over us. We are the body, and there is supposed to be leadership in the elders, but there should be no "spiritual dependance" upon another man.