Gripe, gripe, gripe…complain! Fault finding, blaming and blame shifting…accusation and innuendo. Mud-slinging and name calling…social turmoil, political turmoil, economic turmoil—even the weather is in turmoil! What is going on?
My stomach knots up just writing that. Some of us carry anxiety in our stomach (and risk ulcers), others carry it in the shoulders (and deal with back pain) others bodies turn it into migraines. Power struggles, competition and crime—whatever happened to loyalty and faithfulness, of doing a good job because that is the thing to do? It seems you can’t get away from something to worry about or be fearful of. If it’s not a rocket raining down on your head it is a hurricane barreling toward you. Is it any wonder people are becoming sick and heading for their addiction of choice? We are addicted to everything from food and caffeine to alcohol to risk taking and hard drugs—anything to bring us comfort.
The Root of The Problem? We have a worldview instead of a kingdom view! The result is that we are short sighted. It is me and mine; we don’t see the big picture. The small view of things means we are pretty much ego-centric and don’t want to share our toys. “But he took my … and I want it back!” We keep our eyes at “eye level;” we have to look higher than that, get our eyes off of self, off of our brother/neighbor, etc. and fasten our eyes on our heavenly Father.
Jesus knew we do not think like God does and consequently we do not value the same things that God values. Thankfully, we can change that, if we want to. In Eph. 5:10 Paul urges us to “find out what pleases God.” So thinking like God is something we can find out—learn to do? I question God, “I can learn (find out) to think like You do? How do I do that?” What went off in my head rocked me. “READ THE RED PRINT!” Huh?
We can find out what pleases God by reading the red print in our Bibles! Let that soak in for a while. As I did, I began to understand. Jesus always said what He heard the Father say. He did what the Father did. If we want to know what God thinks is important, just read and memorize the red print. That will put God’s thoughts and values inside; we can make them our own!
The Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start. In Matthew 6 Jesus encourages His disciples to not be or do like the hypocrites (scribes and Pharisees) whose lifestyle was a very noisy, public show of piety. The scribes and Pharisees were both religious and political leaders…and Jesus called them hypocrites. They made a lot of noise (like politicians today) so people would notice them giving to the needy, praying in public places and fasting. They wanted to be noticed…and that notice was the only reward that they received. In Matthew 23:27 Jesus said they were “white-washed sepultures filled with dead men’s bones!” Their faith and their lifestyle were dead, hollow and lifeless—without power. Perhaps we could see some parallels with the same social sector today. There were a few good men involved back then and the same is true today.
Contrast that with what Jesus required of His disciples—to not draw attention to their giving, their prayer or fasting—or to how they practiced their righteousness or their politics? Acts of righteousness was to be a private thing between them and their heavenly Father. They were to have a private lifestyle of intimacy. I believe that it was understood that all the public offering of sacrifices and charitable giving was to continue, but without fanfare and in addition there was to be a private, intimate relationship with Father God.
I have heard many people say that we must “respond to negativity (regardless of the source or arena) in the opposite spirit.” I believe Matthew 6 is the Biblical basis for that sentiment—every time Jesus said, “But I say to you…” He gave us another picture of the thoughts and values of heaven.
In their trek across the Sinai Desert the Children of Israel got into trouble more than once for a lack of honor and respect as they complained against their leaders and against God. They are not the only ones for whom complaining is a lifestyle. This week our pastor encouraged us to not complain. I’ve heard it said that complaining is “the American Way!” Changing our worldview to a kingdom view will not occur overnight. We will not be able to say one fancy prayer and be able to think like God.
However, if we pick up the discipline of memorizing Jesus words, after a while it will have an effect. Our conscience will be quicker to kick in. Negativity will begin to sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. We will complain less and compliment more. We will find ourselves more grateful. There will be less worry and more praise; less stomach acid and fewer migraines!
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive