Saturday, 6 December 2014

Word : Reality 2

Conclusion from 29th November, 2014

Escapism is an unhealthy desire to escape from the realities of life by
concentrating on other interests. Almost everyone engages in it, even matured Christians. Now we move on to explore some of the escape routes down which we run whenever we are required to deal with unpleasant reality.

1.     Wrong attitudes
There are basically two attitudes we can take when we get frustrated and
want to escape from unpleasant reality. We either take a mental flight into the past, or take a mental flight into the future.

The first – a return to the past (Attitude of Archaism)
This is a favorite device of both nations and individuals when trying to escape from unpleasant present-day realities. They live in the past and glorify it. They spend their time fantasizing about ‘the good old days’. Since they cannot deal with the present, they turn to the past and dwell in it. Mentally this provides compensation for the frustration they feel with current happenings. But any attempt to escape into the past is an attempt to escape into unreality – it does not work.
·         Life demands that we live in the present or we do not fully live.
·         There is nothing wrong in looking back into the past, of course, provided we use it simply as a reference point and not a resting point.
·         To glance at the past is to learn its lessons and its wisdom, to gaze into the past and try to live in it is dangerous, no it is disastrous.
·         There are people who live on borrowed capital of their ancestors. ‘My father was so and so, my grandfather was this’ they tell you. They fail to realize that they do not need to borrow worth from others; they have their God given worth.

The second – a flight into the future (Attitude of futurism)
When there is no past, or rather proud past, many take a flight into the
future and try to live there as a mental compensation for not being able to face the present. These are dreamers, the fantasizers, who dream but never achieve.
It is important to say that there is nothing wrong with drawing upon the imagination in preparation for the future. What we are talking about is an unhealthy and unrealistic preoccupation with the future.
·         People engrossed in the future never affect the present with their dreams of what lies ahead because they are too preoccupied with the future for it to have any effect on the present.
·         The present is messy, the future is glorious, so they try to live in it. Such people have no roots in the present, so they bring forth no fruits in the present.
·         Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a dream, today is reality.
·         If our Christianity does not work for us in the present then we can attempt to make it work for us in the future by focusing our attention on what is to be, rather than on what is. It is possible to use even the truth of Christ’s second coming as a form of compensation for a frustrated present.
While many of us have been gazing into heaven wondering when Jesus will come, politicians, lawmakers and vocal minority groups, right under our noses, have been introducing laws that have brought chaos to society and grief to the heart of God. Things might have been different if we had lived in the present as much as we have looked into the future.

2.     Detachment and withdrawal
Another route we can choose to escape from the frustrations and harsh realities of the present takes us along the road of detachment and withdrawal. This escape route allows us to remain in the present, but detached. We withdraw from life and establish for ourselves a detached form of existence which enables us to keep a safe distance from those things which threaten or intimidate us. This type of behavior can often be observed in little children who won’t play with others and withdraw into an inner world of their own.

There is nothing wrong with occasionally retreating from life in an effort to rest or renew one’s inner resources. However, when retreatism becomes a way of life, it spells trouble.
An underlying reason for withdrawal and detachment is a fear that we cannot handle the situations which confront us from day to day. But scripture says God will never allow anything to come our way without providing the strength to deal with it. There are exceptions though. Some have been called by God to withdraw from the world and give themselves to prayer and intercession.

3.     Denial
Now we consider what is considered to be the most popular escape route that Christians run down when they are confronted by harsh or unpleasant reality- the escape route of denial.
The following story is not intended to detract from the fact that God does heal today, but to draw attention to a tendency that some Christians have to take the way of denial.
A Christian who experienced some bleeding from his intestines and needed to have several blood transfusions, was informed that further tests should be done to try to discover the source of the bleeding, since preliminary X-rays were not helpful in finding the cause of the bleeding.
The man said he believed God healed him, and for this reason he would no longer require medical help. Sometime later he began to bleed again, but begged his wife not to alert his doctor. His wife did as he asked, but regrettably, three days later, the man died. The post-mortem showed the cause of death to be a ruptured vein in his intestine. His wife remarked that: ‘My husband was so frightened by the bleeding that I am afraid he lost touch with reality.
So many cases have been reported, whereby some church members had died even though certain individuals in the Church have prophesied that they would be miraculously healed. Some Christians are dazed and confused because prophecies made by seeming reliable and mature Christians clearly have not come to pass. Some of the statements coming from the lips of some Christians in the guise of prophecy appear to be immature and irresponsible. Things that God did not say. Many things can contribute to this: a failure to discern between God’s voice and their own inner feelings, a desire for impact or prominence, or even a longing to exercise greater faith. But we are dealing with here is failure to recognize and deal with reality.
Another form of denial, or rather a more extreme form, is the refusal to acknowledge what others say or do. Some people will not admit to themselves that a person is behaving in an unfriendly or hostile manner towards them, and when this is pointed out by others they say: ‘I haven’t noticed anything – you must be mistaken’. Denial occurs, too, I a marriage where one partner is having an affair and the husband or wife fails to see what is quite plain to others. They do not see it because they don’t want to see it. This is because denial is easier to handle than reality. It may help us to avoid facing up an issue, but it has one great disadvantage: it blocks the way to becoming a real person.
·         Sadly, denial keeps us away from God, for whatever is true must be accepted. Integrity means having a system of living that never requires us to deny what is before us.
·         We need not exaggerate what is before us, we need not minimize what is before us, but we need to acknowledge frankly and honestly what is before us.
·         God is not afraid of or intimidated by anything that happens in His world, so why should we be?

4.       Adoption of superior attitudes.
Since we will inevitably feel inferior and inadequate whenever we avoid facing up to an issue, the personality helps us compensate for these feelings by assisting us to develop an aloofness and superior disposition.
One of the characteristics of those who have extravagant notions about themselves is that they go around regarding others as foolish. Each time they see some one slip up or make a mistake they immediately think: ‘What a stupid thing to do’ If this is the automatic reaction one has to people who fail or make mistakes, the chances are that some superior attitudes are developing within us. We must remember that all escape routes are an attempt to maintain our balance, however, which in reality is not a true balance. When we compensate for our feelings of inadequacy and inferiority by going to the other extreme and indulging in inflated notions about ourselves, we are living a lie - we are not real.
This is why we need to be willing regularly to open our beings to God and pray the prayer in Psalm 139: 23-24.
Those who take the escape route of superior attitudes are in essence really not different from the Pharisees whom Jesus so roundly challenged. It is interesting to note that many secular training manuals on counseling refer to a defence mechanism as ‘pharisaism’.
Jesus saw right to the depths of their lives and perceived that they were inwardly bankrupt and were compensating for their inner emptiness by the adoption of superior attitudes. They were proud, supercilious, and self-righteous, the attitudes some people adopt to cover up their feelings of inferiority.

The biblical term for what we are talking about here is ‘pride’- an evil and subtle thing. We can feel superior because our church is growing faster than anyone else’s, we can feel superior because our denomination is bigger than anyone else’s. Pride, as people can be pride of race, pride of face, or pride of lace. These are all forms of Pharisaism, which is an inverted sense of inferiority and inadequacy, asserting itself as superiority. This road is a dead end. Those who run down it will one day have to come back and face reality.
·         If we go about saying to ourselves, ‘I thank God I am not like other men,’ then it has.
·         If we feel superior because of the things to which we attach ourselves – our church, our house, work, car, then once again. We need to do some serious thinking.
·         The Pharisees had to keep up pretence of superiority because in reality they were not sure of themselves.
·         Those who understand that their true greatness comes, not from things or earthly attachments, but from their relationship with God, have no need for superior attitudes.

5.     Busyness and activity
This is a favorite escape route for those who are energetically oriented and who enjoy being active. It must be said however, that busyness and activity are not bad in themselves; they become troublesome when we use them as an escape route to avoid facing up to an important issue that needs attention.
It is possible for those who are involved in what is popularly termed ‘full-time Christian service’ (every Christian is in full-time service for the Lord though) to use their Christian work as a means of avoiding their responsibilities in the area of home and family. Busyness can provide a way to escape their more personal problems and provides them with a false sense of security.

Attendance to home and family responsibilities and relationships is of prime importance, take precedence over every other activity – preaching, evangelizing and church meetings. No one can have a successful ministry unless they are prepared to deal with the important issues that arise from time to time in family life. What we must remember is this; any work in the name of Christ but from a wrong motive will be burned up on that day when our life’s work will be examined before the judgment seat of Christ.
In themselves, work and activity do not constitute a problem – they become a problem when we use them as an escape route to evade responsibility. We can be real only as we long with all our hearts to be real. God will co-operate with us, but He will not coerce us. If however, we have the will then God will find the way.
6.     Self- Pity
One of the worst things we can do when we are confronted by difficult or unpleasant reality is to lapse into the paralysis of self-pity. Pity should go out to others and not be turned inwards on oneself. Pity that flows outward is good; pity that flows inwards is unproductive. It becomes a poison in the soul.
Self –pity must not be confused with self-concern. Self-concern is a healthy thing and evaluates the best interests of the self so that it can function more effectively in the interests of others. Self-pity is an unhealthy thing, and has little or no regard for the interests of others – just the interests of the self.
Studies show that people who are most prone to self-pity are those who are highly sensitive and easily hurt. Unless they can see that sensitivity is a capacity for sympathy and that the ability to feel deeply is God’s equipment to feel deeply with others, they can be trapped in a miserable mood of complaint and whimper their days away. Below are some of the things self-pity does to us
·         Self-pity invariably exaggerates distresses. It turns molehills into mountains and trivialities into tragedies.
·         It steals a person’s courage.
·         It disregards the fact that troubles and trials are an inevitable part of life and assumes that we should spend our days on a bed of roses.
·         There is always some anger mixed up in self-pity and usually the anger is turned inwards upon oneself.
Trouble comes to us all, and a healthy mind looks at them, evaluates them, decides on a course of action, and gets to grips with matters in a courageous and determined way. The unhealthy mind, however, responds by telling itself over and over again that such a thing ought never to have occurred and in response to this constant negative self-talk, the mind takes on a martyr complex.
Can Jesus save us from Self-pity? None better! He suffered the cruelest treatment from some who appeared to be His friends, but His sensitive soul was never ensnared into self-pity. There was no self-pity in his heart (Luke 23:28) and there need be no self-pity in our make- up either.
How do we face reality?
1.       The first step is this: be at home in reality. To be at home in reality is to be at home in Christ. (Mattew 11:28) Jesus was the most real person the world has ever seen. Not once in time or eternity has He ever dodged an issue or evaded a single responsibility. When He saw how sin had damaged and destroyed human life, He faced the reality of the situation even though it meant wearing our flesh and suffering the humiliation of being put to death on a cross. To be at home in reality means being totally committed to Christ. When we are His, then the truth that holds the universe together holds us together. This enables us to walk the earth as did Jesus, willing to face everything that comes in the knowledge that nothing can work successfully against us.
2.       Second step: Ask God to show you any dishonest substitutes that you may be subconsciously using in an effort to avoid reality.
3.       Third step: Co-operate with the Holy Spirit by determining to be as open and honest as you can. The Holy Spirit can do wonderful things in us, but only if we play our part too.
4.       Fourth step: Surrender all your fears into the hands of God. Behind an escape mentality there is always some fear. This is not easy as it sounds, for it probably means giving up a whole life strategy. This means reversal – a life reversal! You might be tempted to compromise – give half of them up and keep half of them in your hands. But giving up just half your fears means experiencing failure. To surrender your fears into the hands of God means that now He has them and not you. This shift the basis: you are not struggling to overcome them; you and God are working it out together. Your eyes are now on God, not on yourself and your fears. To look at God creates faith, to look at yourself and your fears create more fear – the fear of fear.
5.       Fifth step: Go out and face every situation that threatens you, and deal with it in the strength of Christ (John 16:33) Take heart I have overcome the world. How do we get hold of Christ’s victory and make it ours? Look at these verses John 16: 16-33: ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’. What does ‘in me’ mean? It means being identified with Christ, merged into Him, so at one with Him that His victories become ours and hence His peace becomes ours.
In the Old Testament we read: ‘Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses’ (Isaiah 63:12) God’s power and Moses’ efforts coincided. When God raised His right arm, Moses’ right arm was alongside it. Moses’ arm had to be stretched out too, and when he tried, God provided the triumphant outcome. Say to yourself this day: ‘I am in Christ, and so His power is identified with every single thing in my life. Today His glorious arm will be at my right hand. As I confront my fears and deal with the things of which I have been afraid, I will discover God’s strength at work in me.(Amen in Jesus name) Don’t just say it, believe it.

6.       Sixth step: Is to fix this text firmly in your mind: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Phil 4;13) This means  more than memorizing it, it means holding it in your mind constantly so that it is immediately available to you whenever you are confronted by harsh or unpleasant reality. A withdrawal from real issues is really a withdrawal from the spirit of Jesus.

In conclusion, if we are not saved from a fear of reality, we are not whole, as God wants us to be.
Remain Blessed

Submitted by: Anonymous

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