Living in a material world

On Wednesday, I was sitting in the last class I would have of a course, (yay!  Summer is here!)  and we were talking about volunteers in churches, or more accurately, problematic volunteers.
This particular discussion was about what to do with volunteers who cause pain and division among a congregation – because, unfortunately, it happens.  People want to serve in the church for all sorts of different reasons, and often, those reasons are selfish or poisonous (not that the volunteer realizes this, or has even taken the time to reflect on why she wants to volunteer).  We joked about how it would be so nice to have a list of the people who moved from church to church, causing destruction (because that happens), or how maybe we should warn whatever church they are going to next (assuming they tell someone – which they usually do), or how we should maybe call their previous church to see what their impact was, before allowing them to serve in our church.  Like, actually having references (and checking them) in order to volunteer with your church…or maybe even join the church.
Someone in my class likened it to sexual predators, saying that if they knew the person was a sex offender, and was going to another church, she’d warn the other church.  And everyone in the class seemed to agree.  But, everyone quickly followed up, only warn the other church THEN.  Not if the volunteer was causing spiritual or emotional pain, or even a split in the congregation.  You can’t warn the next church congregation victim of the destructive volunteer is the volunteer does ONLY spiritual or emotional damage to their previous church.
I mention this because I think it shows a fault in our physically-aware Western culture.  If someone is going to harm the physical side of another person, we do everything we can to stop it (as we should).  But if someone is known for causing spiritual harm, or emotional harm, well, the victim should just toughen up.  Distance themselves, if they can, sure, but often we Christians encourage them to stay in the painful, awful situation.
By saying that, we are saying that the physical part of a person is the most important, or most valuable part.  At least, that’s how I see it. Protect the physical part of people from those who would do harm, but if we know of other harm – our hands are tied.
Assuming you believe in an afterlife, than you probably believe that physical body is not the part that lives on.  It is not the most important part of you.  Is it important?  Sure.  Are all the facets of who you are (physical, spiritual, emotional, mental – just to name the big ones) somehow intertwined with your physical body?  Yes.  If a man rapes a girl, is he somehow also harming her emotionally, spiritually, and mentally (despite the fact he’s only touching her physical body)?  More than likely – yes.
We put so much emphasis, so much importance, on the physical world.  On our bodies, on our possessions, what we can see, hear, taste, touch and smell.  We call this physical world Reality.  But the thing is, this Reality, this physical world, it’s not going to last.  Look around, decay is everywhere.  Western Culture’s Reality is crumbling, and crumbling quicker by the day.  And yet we cling to what our physical bodies can experience, ignoring the fact that God created us with other, more long-lasting parts.
Why is that?
We get so trapped up in this immediate world, that we forget to prep for the next.  We forget to protect the spiritual and emotional parts of us and of others.  We forget (or get too lazy) to stretch the mental parts of us.  The parts of ourselves that we can’t see, we forget matter.  And so they sit, curled up in the fetal position, in the corner of our existence, starving to death with skeleton-like faces and twig arms, too emaciated to even cry out.
Something needs to change.  Our priorities need to change.  The way we see the world, the way we experience the world, the way we view ourselves, needs to change.
Only God can change our perspective.  Only He can help us remember that the world we live in is more than a physical one, that who we are is more than a body and a mind.  But the change of perspective, the realization that this physical world is not the only layer of our existence, is vital.  It needs to happen.  Has to happen.  So pray.  Pray that God will change how you see yourself and others, and that you can be an influence in changing what others think is most important.


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Filed under Personal Image, Relationships, Self / Emotions, spiritual life

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