Check Your Vertical, Part 6

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, October 7, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

In recent weeks, we have seen back to back destructive storms that leveled massive parts of the southern United States and many Islands in the Caribbean and Atlantic. The storms, the destruction, and the outpouring of compassion and aid were initially unprecedented. But, within days of these storms landing their blows, even the chart topping Category 5+ hurricane Irma is already obscured by political theater and people losing their minds with over-reactive media grenades and “cause pawns.”

We are so saturated by the culture and the media that we actually struggle to think for ourselves. The interconnectedness of all our technology also gives the media and our culture more power over us. Did you know that companies can actually track where you look, touch, or click on a web page most often? There are advanced programs that not only track your actual interaction with a webpage, but can also predict your interests and choices so that advertisers can position the types of products or news you would be most likely to respond to.

They use this technology to spy on your web browsing and your TV and other media consumption. Why? Because when we have even a false sense of “privacy,” we are more likely to make choices that are more emotionally transparent. When we don’t feel the need to be aware of how others may perceive us, we let our rational “filter" for our decisions relax. Typically, the more emotionally charged a thought or decision is, the more likely we are to act upon it, even bending our reason to justify it. So, the media, consumer-oriented companies, and cultural influencers all pay more attention to your “automatic" choices when your rational brain is at rest, because they know it will be a better predictor of your future choices. This is why companies stopped using surveys and random interviews as their primary consumer research. They noticed that often sales and decision making of consumers did not match what they were told in interviews. This is because when we are asked direct questions from a rational discussion, we will give thoughtful answers including what we know we “should" say to reflect the values we say we uphold. But as we stand in front of the refrigerator or pantry with an emotional need to snack, most of that is disregarded for whatever we feel will satisfy our tummy.

It’s no different in politics, social justice, religious practices, or any other aspect of human existence. If you want to know what someone's highest priorities are, if you want to predict their decisions, then find a way to observe their choices when they think no one is watching. Funny, when I say it that way, it just reminds me that we really are prone to behave like mischievous children when we think we won’t get caught.

So, how do we break the cycle of making emotionally-charged decisions, especially irrational, immoral, and stupid ones, when the culture and the media keep feeding us more and more reactive content, to keep us emotionally charged on all the issues they want to control? Well, as simple as this may sound, it starts with closing our eyes. If we stop staring at the screen, if we stop searching the fridge and the pantry, if we simply tune out the emotional stimulation, we will be able to wind down the emotional spin. It’s essential that we do this, so that we can make thoughtful decisions about society, politics, diet, family, education, etc. As soon as we do this, we will be less stressed, and we may even lose a few pounds if we aren’t stalking the fridge.

Once we tune down the emotional noise, we can start to tune into an important principle found in 2 Timothy 4:3-8. Notice how Paul encourages Timothy. What are the priorities that he gives Him?

  • Keep your head
  • Endure hardship
  • Draw others to God (“do the work of an evangelist“)
  • Serve in all the ways you have been given responsibility for (“fulfill your duties of ministry/service”)

Notice WHO he charges Timothy to do this for. Is it for himself? Is it for Paul? Paul points to his own example and charges Timothy to do the same. Paul leads by example and expects Timothy to serve God fully, undistracted, for the sake of others, with all of his ability, and to the very end.

We could say that Paul mentors Timothy with this understanding: Your HEAD is JESUS, not GOOGLE.

We work for the Lord, we serve others in the name of the Lord, we love in the name of the Lord, we teach how to live for the Lord, we live and move and have our being in the Lord, so that we can move forward, so we can grow forward and use every gift and ability and skill for His honor and glory.

If you have read this whole blog post series (starting with part 1 here), I hope you feel encouraged and challenged by everything that was shared. As followers of Jesus, we are called to live as a reflection of His standard. We are to move away from our self-centered and horizontal chatter and get squarely under His ‘plumb line’ - knowing He always sees us, and intentionally helping others see Him. We should breathe our last breath with joy, knowing that regardless of the gains or losses, pleasures or pains we faced, we finished the race blessed by God and blessing His name.

If we close our eyes and ears to the distractions, reactions, and chatter, keeping our eyes and actions on Him – in line with the true vertical – then we will always know when to stand, when to kneel, and which way is forward. We can maximize our learning by teaching others, so we are always growing in our relationship with him. We can set aside delusion and allow every aspect of our thoughts and actions to be from DISCERNMENT of who God is and what He wants. We can keep our heads by keeping Jesus as our head - not looking to Google, or actors or anyone else for our value, our hope, our life, our direction, or our VERTICAL.

Will you run the race God has mapped out for you? Or will you follow the wild goose chase the culture wants you addicted to?

God has marked out each step along the way, so that we can be confident of what is right and where we are going, even when it’s hard to see. He has asked us to focus on Him so when we finish, the goodness and the greatness of His standards can be clearly seen by anyone willing to see. Remind yourself daily to check your vertical.

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