A False and True Center

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. [James 4:1-4 ESV]

Repentance has a demand which must be met. Not fulfilling this demand says there has been no repentance. This demand is a knowing and feeling working together. Sin must be known with the mind and the turning away from sin must be felt with the emotions. This is one act not two for the whole person must meet the demand. What occurs may not be explainable. Most people cannot say exactly what has occurred but they know in the thinking of their hearts it has happened. With this turning comes a war with skirmishes and battles and assaults both overt and covert. Turning away from sin demands diligence in both thinking and feeling, for sin is jealous and will not relinquish its control until there is death. However, we are given the tools we need to wage this war and to grow into the individual God makes us for eternity through the indwelling of the Spirit. Sin no longer has control yet continues to assault to try to manipulate control. How we act while fully engaged in this war is the evidence of the truth of our turning.

I have spent time on the moral law of God because the conflict we face between intimately knowing it and facing the reality of sin cannot be ignored.

For any sinful person the center of the world, even the center of the universe, is self. How difficult it is for me, when I think and feel, perceive and act based wholly upon the isolation of myself. My life extends out from my person in tight, concentric circles, touching first those people and events closest to me. If anything does not touch my life in some tangible way, some way I can easily perceive, then I feel it has little or no bearing upon my decisions and values. When I am the center if anything does not touch me then it really doesn’t matter.

When something does touch me it must, absolutely must, adhere to my self-developed expectations or it makes me angry, which may transform into bitterness, hatred, frustration, depression and many other destructive emotions. These violent emotions separate people, driving families apart and further isolating every person.

Perceived needs are first sensual and once identified become fixed, or codified, into a loosely defined system of personal values, expectations and even laws. Each person in a community has their own personal value system, based upon individual experience and developed personality. There is no cohesion between individuals unless they hold similar and like values. Every community has a recognized and applied system of values and even ethics. This system must be recognized as abiding outside of the individual yet held as valuable by all of the individuals.

“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” [Matthew 12:25-2 ESV] God cannot be divided against Himself. Satan’s work is to tear apart, to divide, to rip asunder. He has failed and will fall. Our world is under the control, or influence, of Satan. His method of operation is to divide. At the same time, this world is under the spell, the law, of sin. Sin has a personality. It is the personality of the individual sinner. Sin doesn’t divide but separates the individual from the Creator. Sin never unites. Satan never unites. Even Satan is under the dominance of sin.

Each person cannot be the center of the world or the universe. There can be only one center and that center is nowhere on this little speck of blue dust floating in an unimaginably vast universe. God, who is the first and last, the beginning and end, the alpha and omega, is not viewed as the center by any sinful person. That person’s universe, my universe, cannot stand. It will self-destruct. When we view ourselves as the center, most of the time doing this without being aware of our self-centered focus, we contribute to the to the tearing apart of our relationships. Only by forcibly making God the center in the thinking of our hearts will we begin to have healthy relationships. Nothing functions as it is supposed to without the conscious knowledge of the truth of God at the center.

“Dysfunction”, that which looks as if it would operate properly but does not, for various reason or under certain circumstance. Function implies design, creation to fulfill or adherence to the design, and the ability to act according to the express purpose of the design.

Is it possible for a person to be a functioning dysfunctional? How about a society or culture?

In Scripture we learn people are created with the express function to have an intimate relationship with both their Creator and each other. True intimacy, especially with God, is evidence of proper working. Where dysfunction occurs the evidence will be a breakdown or even severing of relationship. No body functions properly with missing or broken pieces. Such a compromised body may continue to operate, or function, but not to the fullest capacity intended. Lose a hand or foot or eye or ear and other parts may compensate for the loss. Lose a head or other vital organ and the body ceases to operate or function. Proper function is hindered but not stopped with the loss of a non-vital piece. Is it possible for the function of one part to be taken over by another while the first part is still complete? The eye cannot smell, but the foot can operate as a hand, in a limited way, and the arms can operate as legs. This is not optimal. What is true for the body is equally true for the person, the family an the community.

Now, a litany of my personal dislikes:

Clothes are designed to be worn in a specific manner. A ball cap has a bill jutting out of the front in order to shield the eyes of the wearer from the sun, or other bright lights. When worn askew, with the bill to the side or back, the cap is not functioning as it is intended. Is the person wearing the cap in such a manner is showing they do not understand or care about the function of the cap? In any case, the cap is not dysfunctional but the individual wearing the cap is not allowing the cap to function properly.

When made “properly” a pair of pants has a waist designed to fit around the person’s actual waist. Generally there are loops for a belt to add security and ensure the pants don’t fall down, causing the person to trip and fall, or to expose those areas below the waist considered private. To purposefully wear pants far below the waist causes the pants to not function properly. Doing this forces the wearer to hold the pants up with one hand or continually pull them up in order to walk or run. Why would anyone cause a functional pair of pants to slip down and impede other bodily functions, like walking?

An individual who wears headphones to listen to music may do so in order to not disturb others. However, when the individual moves into the public, walking, riding, driving, they must turn the volume up to drown out the noise around them. Eventually, the volume becomes so high others can hear, which may disturb them. There are other consequences. Hearing loss caused by excessive volume bombarding the nerves cause permanent damage. The headphones function properly, the person does not.

Evidence for a person’s dysfunction is found in every facet of their behavior. Continued behavior reinforces the dysfunction making it more difficult to identify the problem and break it. Soon, the dysfunction is viewed as normal, accepted by the person, by their peers, and even by the community and society at large. There may be grumbling, but unless there is social pressure to not act, dress or think in a particular dysfunctional way there will be no change. The dysfunction is ingrained.

It is obvious a society, culture and community are dysfunctional. Societal norms change to accommodate the dysfunction. Those individuals who do not act in accordance with the accepted dysfunction are shunned, until others begin to emulate them, and those actions and attitudes become normal. Each successive ring of dysfunction solidifies into a impenetrable plate of armor shielding the individual from learning or acting in a truly functional manner. Driven out of the person is the recognition of what was originally intended, their original purpose, with any understanding so corrupted rehabilitation is impossible.

People do not, will not, and cannot act in a manner for which they were originally intended. Even if they have a glimpse of the original, functional purpose there is too much pressure to continue thinking, then acting in a dysfunctional way. 

It is not the intent of this piece to examine the reasons or evidences of a dysfunctional person or society. It is enough to know the dysfunction exists and is impossible to overcome. It is also enough to identify the reality when a community or society accepts the dysfunction as normal. It is also important to realize the individual, community, society or culture which is dysfunctional cannot and does not recognize the dysfunction and will even fight against those who identify and highlight the dysfunction. We could even say value is placed upon the dysfunction when the activity and attitude is accepted and embraced.

Jesus, the only functioning person ever (even Adam created perfect, when he fell, ceased to function the way God originally intended), decided to come into a world turned upside down. He did not come to change the world and make it right. He came to convict the world of sin, to change those redeemed, and to serve God. He is Man the way God originally intended. This is why the world hates Him. He is the true center of a world which wants self at the center.

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