We Better Understand Ourselves When We Are Together
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Proverbs 19:20, ESV
Biblical wisdom is the kind of wisdom that helps you live life successfully, with people and with God. It’s a practical everyday life kind of wisdom that the book of Proverbs teaches the believer to have. Through our faith, we should grow vertically, in our knowledge and understanding of God, who he is, what his character and nature is like, and as well, what he wants from us on earth. The horizontal wisdom we need is about living in relationship with people and things in this world.
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS, OR DOWN IN THE DUMPS?
Christians are like Skittles. They come in all flavors and colors, each with a unique personality and temperament. Some are those you want to spend time with others, you are hoping don’t call, text, or sit near you. The better you understand each other’s differences, the more you can grow to appreciate the differences. Here are a few kinds of Christians I have observed over the years.
#1 Head in the Cloud Christians – These kinds of Christians often dismiss earthly problems, and act like everything is okay, when in fact it’s not. Life is peachy and void of many problems. There is pie in the sky, it’s always a good day. And when trouble hits, there is almost a denial of something bad happening. You can be sure of this, that the world is filled with evil, sin, hurt, brokenness, death, and violence. We are to learn how to be fully human and experience all kinds of emotions.
As scripture tells us, there is a time for everything: a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and time to rejoice (Ecclesiastes 3)! This comes with emotional maturity. As the Apostle Paul said, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (I Corinthians 12:26). The need for emotional maturity is high in today’s church. One church member is struggling with the fear and concern of Covid-19, the other is not. One church member is doing great in their marriage while the other is not. One church member is strong and thriving financially, the other is struggling. The Bible calls us to bear with the weakness of others, that is, to accommodate and seek to understand, to feel what they feel.
Jesus himself told us that we will face troubles in this world and that we will find peace and comfort as we rely upon him. “Head in the cloud” Christians love songs like “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood, or say things like “God’s got this” when it comes across as cliché and can belittle others’ genuine feelings of loss or hurt. While there is a need to keep an eternal perspective, we need to remember we live on earth. Sin has infected and affected everything and everyone, and the world we live in needs our help. God calls us to be agents of change for the good, and we can’t do that if we dismiss, downplay, or ignore the issues of our world. This is where you see the hillbillies head for the hills to gather guns, food, and water and build a bunker to go hide. Or the monks’ retreat into isolationism and seek to avoid all other worldly contacts. Jesus has something more for us.
#2 Down in the Dumps Christians – These are the “Debby Downers”, the “Negative Nathans” of our world. They see the world through the glass half empty perspectives, they are the pessimistic types. There are few praises passing through their lips and many problems pouring out in prayer requests. These kinds of people are generally prone to more mental, emotional, and physical health challenges. They fixate on problems and stew in negative patterns of thinking. They see the problems and need help finding solutions.
All are loved by God, and both are in need of each other to live in a completely different way. God doesn’t want our head in the clouds or to be down in the dumps, but our feet on the ground, and our eyes on eternity. While we are not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), we mustn’t forget that we are still called to live in it. As Jesus prayed in John 17:18, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” So, while we are called to live differently, I believe there is a third option.
GROUNDED BUT GODWARD
#3 Grounded but Godward – These are the Christians that have their feet on the ground but their eye in the sky! It’s the idea that we live on earth, with a mindset that we should make the most of the life God has given us. In this time, we are to make the best use of it, making the most of every opportunity we have while living (Ephesians 5:16). We are to live with the ambition to see more of heaven lived out on earth. This happens when we seek to be a minister right in the middle of the messy world we live in, with friends, our neighbors, our family from close or afar. It’s being grounded in the reality of where we live, and yet with our eyes on eternity, knowing that we are citizens of another country (Philippians 3:20).
As Christians we need to be grounded in God’s word, with God’s people, living a Godly life. This is the sure pathway to living a Godward life. A life that aims to please God, not simply living as a people pleaser. To do this, we will need to rely on wise counsel from others, learning from and listening to others. As Proverbs 15:22, teaches us, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.”
We need each other to grow in the wisdom of who we are and how we work together. We are to value one another, love and care for one another, knowing we are all works in progress and need to grow.
You may be down in the dumps or have your head in the clouds and you need to be open to allow a friend to speak into your life, or have the confidence and courage to reach out and ask for help. But what you don’t need is more and more people who are struggling with exactly what you are struggling within your life. We need other believers helping us to live grounded and Godward!