Deeper Issues

assault rifle

“If I was in charge, things would be different.”

A common statement made by the young quite often begins like this, “When I’m grown up I’ll…” ,  how the statement ends always depends on the kid, but it always starts the same.  After leaving our home most of us spend a significant amount of time doing things differently than our parents would have.  We do this for many reasons, not the least of which is identity formation;  we must determine who we will be when no one has parental authority over us.

If this were the only reason for rejecting our parents authority we’d have plenty to be concerned about; children left to their own devices don’t make the wisest decisions.  On top of this developmental aspect we’re also confronted with the issue of human rebelliousness.

While we prefer options and choices, much of life demonstrates that our success and safety is achieved through submission and assimilation into larger society. A broad personal acceptance is only found through broad personal submission.  The problem is that none of us like to be told what to do.

What we mean to say is  “My way of doing things would be better.”

Each of us subtly believes that we know enough to know best about each situation we encounter.  It’s demonstrated whenever we offer unsolicited advice.  When we see someone do something differently than we would, we immediately begin formulating the mental processes by which we would demonstrate our mastery over this situation in a way that is superior to everyone else.

Unfortunately we don’t posses the power to take control.

Much of life is spent searching for ways to assert our will over the will of the others around us.  The majority of us prefer dominance over subordination and you see this in nearly all of our social interactions: Who will determine the topic of conversation and for how long we will talk about it?  What movie will we all go see and what will we eat afterwards?

Some humans posses the inner ability to exert influence over others in ways that seem agreeable and pleasant: Charming men and winsome women seem to order the lives of those around them in an almost carefree and effortless fashion.  Others rely on their outward appearances: The handsome and beautiful are often given elevated positions regardless of ability.  These intrinsic advantages allow some to exert themselves in ways that fit within social norms while delivering the broad acceptance that humans crave.

The rest are required to develop skills and relationships that can deliver them moments of authority and control, but only when their specific area of expertise is required.  For the people who do not posses the inner, outer, or technical ability to find their relational place in the broader social context it becomes nearly impossible to exert influence.  Frustration and impotence leads them on a quest for something external that will allow them to assert themselves.

We find something that gives power, then we assert our dominance

The search for tools that will deliver us from impotence, and establish relationship within the elite, is as old as the quest for the wheel and fire.  When we finally discover the tool we’ve been searching for we implement it in ways that not only give us a distinct advantage, but we look to curb any intervention in our power from among our competitors.

Whether it’s with our looks, our personality, our carpentry skills, or a Bushmaster assault rifle we each use something to assert our will over others.

Tools gives us power.

Power gives us command.

Command allows a perverse will to wreak havoc on others.

In the coming months we will be asked to believe that our tragedies and problems are simply political, legal, or social.  The handsome and the charming will look to restore a shattered sense of peace and safety while the rest do battle in the surface tension.

While it would be false to assume that there aren’t significant political and legal issues that should be addressed, it would also be an oversimplification to ignore the fact that our broad and public tragedies are deeply rooted in a shared spiritual brokenness.

Sin devours.

To be sidetracked in argument will not only hamstring us but it will also keep believers from offering the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the solution for every human problem.  Engaging in debate is never as effective as sharing the restoring hope that is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus, it’s just easier.  Believers in Jesus Christ have a responsibility to the Gospel.

“When I thirst for power I make terrible decisions.”

The desire to impose our will is a lusting for power.  When we believe that power will solve our problems we set others up for immense failures.  My unchecked desires for self-gratification don’t merely lay behind every one of my personal failings, they also form a portion of the rotting core that lies at the heart of mankind’s problem.

When we are willing to stop teaching and encouraging children that the solution to their problems is finding the tools that will give them the power to assert their dominance over others, we will begin to destroy the idea that the solution to our problems is more authority.

There is a responsibility that comes with power, and that responsibility demands personal sacrifice, not just willful indulgence.  This is what Christ demonstrated in his death on the cross.

Our “gun-culture” “sex-culture” and “consumer-culture” are simply thermometers hanging out of the mouth of a patient dying of an addiction to power and individualism.  These cultures are the ways we seek to assert our desires in the face of the unstoppable authority and will of the only truly Sacrificial Leader.

Some of us have problems with politicians, some of us have problems with guns, but each of us have root problems that come from the unchecked pursuit of power and authority.  Join me in asking Jesus to work on the root of our issues.  It’s what he came for isn’t it?

When Jesus is on the throne things will be different.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. -John 1:4-5

2 Responses to “Deeper Issues”

  1. Sadie Reiter December 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    You always see so deeply into our earthly circumstances, John.
    Sandy Hook seamed like a horrific ending to a life of frustration of one with no power to even have a friend. He took the lives of those beautiful children who had all the power he would have wanted. Maybe there wasn’t a way to have helped Adam learn to cope with the frustrations of dealing with real life. I don’t know the extent of his situation. I do know that I have a very deep sense that he focused on the children and I have a hard time believing that had no meaning to him. Children can be very mean at times. We sure live in a broken world. I feel the same way about the man in Norway who killed 74 teenagers. In a country where it is next to impossible to get a gun by the way. I know we have to teach our children and ourselves to care for one another the way God cares for us. Not easy to do without God’s help in life. I also know God is ultimately ready to turn things to good for those who love Him.

    • Jon December 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      So true Sadie. Sometimes we make the mistake of confusing mental illness and evil. Neither one is mutually exclusive. Many people with harsh backgrounds are able to resist evil urges. Some are not. Jesus really is the answer for evil.

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