Monday, September 22, 2008

Actor or Re-actor?

The relational climate of our world today is filled with reactive conflict, and it is seen on every level from the casual vying for position on the road way to the "one-up-man-ship" ploys of the current political arena. It has gone far beyond anyone's claim that the other person "started it" and all share alike in the guilt. It has been so since Adam and Eve first started their excuses. She said "the Devil made her" and he said "the woman You gave made me". And so the "blame game" began. So how do we stop this "blame game train" and get off? May I suggest some keys to understanding it so that we can began to "act" and not "re-act". First, consider some principles that seem to apply.

Newton's first law in layman terms is "An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest, unless the object is acted upon by an outside force." Newton's second law of motion states that acceleration and direction depend in the applied force, and his third law says that every action has an equal and opposite re-action. If you throw a tennis ball at a wall it will bounce back, and given the right circumstances and an opposite wall, it would continue back and forth. In the matter of relationships between people, the laws, too often seem to apply. One person's vented anger seems thrown at another, is caught and returned in kind. Even the oft' quoted "I don't get angry, I get even" seems to support the law's application. How does one move from "motion" to "rest"? Some might excuse themselves at this point by saying, "well, if it's a law, I can't help myself, I have to react!" The law applies, but relationships are not bound by such laws because they have the variable of the human initiative to act independantly in any given situation.

The Scriptures in James 1:2-4 and 19-20 give us some wise counsel on the matter. "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing...wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."
He would show us that "motion" to "rest" is a matter of choice. He does not have to retaliate "in kind", but can diffuse the proverbial bomb before it can explode and damage both parties, and perhaps others, as well.

Consider the example of the tennis ball. If it is thrown at a wall, what can be done to keep it from bouncing back? Simple. Cover the wall with an absorbent material, say, like cotton batting. It receives the force, the wall is not damaged, and the ball drops harmlessly to the floor. When you as a Christian "are the wall" and angry words are thrown, you can choose to have the "batting" of Christ's intervention and love that can receive the blow without retaliation. In fact, you can throw back love instead of wrath.

For example, wise parents of young children have heard the child shout a defiant "I hate you" but they do not strike back or even retaliate in kind. They knowingly receive the blows in patience, and soon the child's anger is forgotten in an atmosphere of love. Oh, that such would rule our relationships, that we might become the wrathless righteousness of God. Now, my poetic synopsis:

"I don't get angry, I just get even!"

Are words that betray a lack of good reason.

Conflict wages on with hurt on each side,

And sadness, not joy, floods in like a tide.

Now, Newton discovered a rule that applies,

To objects and motion, but to other implies.

He said of each action, its opposite will be,

Of equal proportion when re-action's set free.

But why in relations will we choose the pain,

When both sides will have only sadness to gain?

Is it not better to let the hurt fall,

And return for the evil a blessing for all?

"I can't," some would say, "it's just not my way!"

My point exactly, for in Christ we must stay.

With Him as our shield, our defense against all,

That thrown at us, catching, He'll let it just fall.

He's taken the hurt in every blow,

Absorbed all the pain, so forgiveness we'd know.

So hide in His armor, take His patient resolve,

Reach forth with His love, let re-actions dissolve.

May you, in your day with such conflict, be encouraged to "act" and not "re-act" and thus perserve the patience and joy of God's perfecting work in you.


Mich said...

Were you a fly on my son's wall. We are working on the word "hate."

thanks for the encouragement.

Love ya!

Amber said...

Perfect timing. This is what our sermon/lessons were on at church Sunday. Love how that happens.

Hope you guys are okay. Love and miss you.