Summary: We all want the simple blessing of truth. What stands in the way?
September 1, 2002
And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.
2 Samuel 12.7a (KJV)
Andre’ Agassi is a world-class tennis pro. He is less than a world-class role model for Christians. In a television ad that was popular a dozen years ago, he wore extravagant clothes; he strutted and grunted to a rap song background, and finally peered into the camera lens over the top of his $800 sunglasses and announced, "Image is everything."
This young man has claimed to be a believer; he may have conquered the tennis world, but he has light years to go to understand the basics of Christian witness or living. But that is not unusual in today’s image and status-dominated society.
In such a world have you ever longed for someone to be genuine? Have you ever wished you could have friends that would tell you the truth, folks that would be real? In psychological jargon they call it "wholeness". It is where the things that people say is what they actually do. It is the world in which your parents and grandparents lived where a person’s word was accepted and trusted.
Today there is a desperate need for wholeness in the church, home, and everywhere. The definition of genuineness, or wholeness centers (in part) around the matching-up of values and actions. The following chart describes the different levels upon which human beings operate:
PERSONALITY (I show)
EXPRESSION (I do)
ATTITUDE (I feel)
BELIEF (I know)
VALUE (I am)
The chart represents different component parts of how a human being relates to the rest of his world.
On the most basic level is value (What I really AM). We are beings who have a basic interest in sex, power, and health, because those are basic to survival.
The belief level is our system of thought about those values that we have developed over the years. In the Judeo-Christian ethic, we value sex as good, but our belief restricts, and narrows that to say that sex is good for those who are married to each other. These two basic levels occur entirely within.
Then there is the attitudinal level. This is affected by outside stimulus. It is what we feel (perception) about what others do. We value sex...We believe sex is for married couples only...We observe a society that is sexually promiscuous, and our feeling level develops an attitude.
The expression level is what we actually DO about what we value, believe, and perceive. These are our actions.
And finally...the heart of the problem....the personality level is the extent to which we actually allow others to observe what we do.
Follow it all the way through. I have, let’s say, a basic value for power, or control. I believe, deep down in my "knowing" level, that control, or power must be exercised over a church committee, or they will do God some irreparable harm. I see Brother Charlie starting to voice an opinion in the committee meeting that conflicts with my exercise of control over the committee. On the feeling level, my attitude says, "Oh shut-up, Charlie, I have better ideas than you ever dreamed of; besides, I’m in control, don’t you see that?" So far, those words are only feelings, deep down. But this is a church committee, and I’m not allowed to speak like that, so it comes out, "Brother, we’ll take that under advisement....next order of business, please." What I have done (expression level) is shut Charlie up!! What I have displayed (show level) is a personality of condescension, without coming right out and reveal my REAL agenda, controlling others.
Now, if the chart is like a pile of bricks, with level laid upon level; then what I have just described is a bunch of levels that have shifted. My basic values and beliefs are not in line with what I do and show. What is bound to happen with a building built like this? It would seem that it is destined to fall. But, like a true "architect of pride", none of us allows that to happen. We stick a prop out there to shore-up the leaning tower.
In the example I just gave about the committee meeting, Charlie feels like he’s been side-tracked (which he has), and he pipes up, "Hey, I had a good idea here, let’s discuss it. You can’t just shut me up, fella." What has happened? Charlie has dug thru my personality level, and gotten right down where I live -- And now I’m not only losing control, my real agenda has been unmasked, and I’m in danger of having my extreme value for controlling others exposed.
Bells go off..Whistles sound...(inside my neatly concealed inferiority detection avoiding device - pride protector), and immediately a prop is sent to aid in the battle..."Oh, Charlie, dear friend, I certainly wasn’t trying to bypass you. By all means, we want you to share your ideas. Suppose you bring that up at the next meeting. My expression of false respect for Brother Charlie is only a façade, covering-up my attitude of disrespectful controlling of someone who threatens me. It’s a prop on my teetering building!