We have been covering topics that pick up where "Modeling God" left off. Last week we covered "Fellowship". Next week we will be covering how Fellowship relates to Sex and Marriage. However, in order to make the transition there are a handful of concepts that need to be established. This week I will be covering these topics in five separate posts.
I have written the follow-up book to "Modeling God". I was going to wait until that book came out, but I have found that some of the topics are too important to wait until that book is published. My goal is not to give an exhaustive explanation of these concepts including background. My goal is to present the most profitable and practical aspects so that you can begin to benefit right now.
The first chapter of the next book introduces a HUGE concept that runs throughout the entire book. I call it "OUGHT vs. IS".
Above all else, my DO is determining models. I believe there is a reason WHY things work and/or don’t work even if we never know the reasons. I believe if we know the reasons we can intentionally achieve success. The key is to determine the objective. My FIRST question to EVERYONE that wants my help is: What is the objective? I have found there are really only two objectives...
Is the objective to achieve the ultimate profitability? Some people call this "doing the right thing." I call this OUGHT…”The way it OUGHT to be.”
OR, Is the objective to rationalize our current inability to understand and/or do the right thing...rationalize our inability to achieve OUGHT? I call this IS…”That’s the way it IS.”
Basically, are people looking for a solution (OUGHT) or an excuse why they should feel good about NOT taking responsibility for solving the problem (IS)?
I learned this lesson 13 years ago working for a consumer products company. Ever since then I have noticed this struggle between OUGHT and IS everywhere…especially in Christianity.
Today, we see Christian books and sermons reinforcing IS! There are numerous examples. One of the examples I mentioned before is in “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge.
Mr. Eldridge says that every man has three desires:
1. Go on an adventure
2. Fight a battle
3. Save a beauty
When one looks at the “male” section of the video rental stores, it is hard to argue with this conclusion. Those movies fulfill each area. It certainly seems every man has these desires. Where did these desires come from?
Mr. Eldridge says that God made every man with these desires. Again, this would certainly be hard to argue with since it appears that every man has these desires and doesn’t have to learn to have them…however, the next question is the key: Is it right? (Is this the way men OUGHT to be?)
Mr. Eldridge says man was made for these three purposes and we shouldn’t fight God in these purposes. However, I believe I was made for eternity. For example, what battle will I be fighting in eternity? This is a clear example of OUGHT vs. IS. Eternity is OUGHT. What we have today is IS. Are we supposed to strive for OUGHT or reinforce IS?
I have written Mr. Eldridge and asked him if he ever considered whether God made us with these fleshly desires so that choosing not to do them would be an objective expression of our will. I did not receive an answer.
I believe John Eldridge nails IS. If you want to know how and why it IS, read "Wild at Heart". However, I believe he does a huge disservice to men when he says God WANTS us to be MORE this way! He misses the OUGHT.
For example, there are a lot of things men desire…does this mean God wants us to act on them? Men desire to have intercourse with women…some men have a desire to have sex with all women. Before you think I’m being ridiculous, listen to Martin Luther. Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther decided that men have a desire to have affairs on their wife and there is NOTHING they could do about it. Martin Luther stated this is the way it IS and it isn’t bad because since there is nothing we can do about it...it MUST be what God wanted. This is Calvinism as it was originally taught by John Calvin.
Actually the battle between OUGHT and IS involves some very critical core beliefs. What is the Nature of God? What is God’s Will? How does God’s Will occur?
Alexander Pope summed up IS hundreds of years ago in a poem with the line: “Whatever is, is right.”
IS wants to believe God made us a certain way AND there is nothing we can do about it. The only response is to reinforce IS. This mentality is short-term. It is meant to rationalize our guilt over not doing God’s Will. The objective is to lessen our workload. This mentality doesn’t lead to doing the right thing.
Every time someone points out the deficiencies of a group of people, watch the very next thing they say. For example, if someone tells you women are multi-taskers (or emotional), while men can't multi-task (or are logical)…what is the next statement? OUGHT would tell us how to have the best of both worlds. IS would say that is the way it is and then teach you how to reinforce the IS...how to live with it!
Look around. Men are from Mars, while Women are from Venus? We reward putting up with IS! We have given up on getting answers to achieve OUGHT.
We are physical beings and we are spiritual beings. Only one of these beings can be pre-eminent. Expressing your will to be “born again” is choosing to make the spiritual self pre-eminent over the physical self. This doesn’t mean the physical self completely disappears...the spiritual self is preferred OVER the physical self.
There is a constant struggle over making the spiritual pre-eminent over the physical. Everything we encounter is either physical or spiritual…this struggle can be summarized by IS and OUGHT.
“Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
IS applies to the physical world including our flesh. The physical focuses on the past (when it was better) and the present (when it is the best it is ever going to be). Notice it is impossible to think and talk solely about the present because it is less than a micro-second long. By the time you finish a sentence about the present, it has become the past. 99.999999% of everything you think and speak about is past or future.
"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" (2 Corinthians 5:7)
The physical focuses on what has been seen or can be seen. Faith is the belief in something that can’t be seen or something that hasn’t happened yet. IS attempts to replace faith! IS focuses on APPEARANCE!
"For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart." (2 Corinthians 5:12)
Faith is PROVEN in your actions. IS convinces you to live what what you have. IS says there is nothing to look forward to because you already have the best you are going to have: whatever is, is right. The flesh focuses on IS!
However, the physical runs down and is not eternal. The physical will never be perfect.
“(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17)
OUGHT applies to the spiritual realm and is perfection. The spiritual focuses on the future. The spiritual focuses on things we cannot see. OUGHT does NOT focus on APPEARANCE. This requires faith. The spiritual can become perfect. Whether it becomes perfect or not, the spiritual is eternal and cannot cease to exist. God is focused on OUGHT!
“Breathren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
There is nothing wrong with speaking or thinking about IS or OUGHT in and of themselves. The key is to be conscious of whether you are giving pre-eminence in your words, thoughts and actions to IS or OUGHT…this is different than claiming OUGHT but having your actions follow IS. Looking at OUGHT vs. IS will help you determine immediately if the pastor/teacher is focused on God or the flesh.
There is a statistic that has been thrown around for the last two years: There are twenty million people currently going to church that want to go deeper...they want to get a deeper understanding of the Word of God.
Two years ago, this comment excited me. I have been able to take people deeper with non-contradictory explanations of important concepts like grace, faith, truth, life, etc. All of these explanations had always been in response to an individual asking me a question. So I thought if there are twenty million Christians who want to go deeper, most of the explanations that I initiate would receive a positive response. WRONG!
There might be twenty million "Christians" who SAY they want to go deeper, but my experience is that 99% of these "Christians" DON'T REALLY want to go deeper. They want to APPEAR to go deeper while reaffirming their personal beliefs. Remember, faith is PROVEN by actions, not words.
It would be one thing if I gave an explanation and I was shown where I was wrong or where their explanation was better...but all I receive from these "Christians" is frustration AND judgment WITHOUT explanation. It reminds me of Paul's letter to the Galatians (4:16):
"Am I therefore become your enemy, BECAUSE I tell you the truth?"
The hard part of a non-contradictory (OUGHT) message is not just that it is right or better than the current explanation...it is that you know WHY it is right. THAT is hard to run from or dismiss out of hand.
Simon is a friend of mine who taught me how "Christians" actually go through two phases.
Imagine yourself standing on a foundation. During Phase 1, every time someone asks you a question challenging your beliefs, part of the foundation erodes away because you don't have the answer. It doesn't take long for you to learn NOT to talk about God...every time you do it leads to your foundation disappearing. Talking about God is actually painful.
A lot of "Christians" in Phase 1 want to go deeper (to have more foundation), but they don't want to put the foundation they do have at risk...so they don't. They embrace beliefs that say we can't know or aren't supposed to know...because every time they try to know, they lose foundation. They need to believe their beliefs are based on emotion in order to survive. This is evangelicalism.
The definition of "evangelical" is "convincing people to give their life to God through emotions". Evangelicalism was a renewal movement in the church. Its goal was not so much to convert non-believers as to enliven the faith of nominal believers – to bring individuals to a subjective experience of the saving truths of the gospel. PHASE 1 is focused on IS.
However, if the person puts his beliefs at risk and pushes through the discomfort of thinking, he enters Phase 2...he gets non-contradictory answers. In Phase 2, EVERY question actually grows the foundation. When an individual enters Phase 2, people WANT to talk about God. EVERY time they talk about God, they get more understanding. They go deeper. They dig out the foundation and have MORE to stand on. However, this is a process and involves work...it doesn't occur in sound bites. PHASE 2 is focused on OUGHT.
Always ask yourself and others: Is your objective IS or OUGHT?
If it is to rationalize/justify the current lack of the perfect (godliness), then being IS-focused is sin. Some people may say they are just being “realistic”.
If it is to let God’s divine influence on your heart reflect in your life (grace), it will be OUGHT. Some people may say this is just being “idealistic”.
There are two options a doctor faces when treating a patient. Treat the effect or the cause. When the doctor treats the effects, he focuses on removing the symptoms in an attempt to allow the patient to live WITH the causes. However, the causes are still present and will only result in more damage. When the doctor takes the time to determine and treat the causes, the symptoms go away and there is no more damage.
IS - Treating effects (explaining why we have a problem and how to live with it)
OUGHT -Treating causes (taking responsibility for solving the problem)
What the individual gives pre-eminence to is an expression of their will and determines if they are focused on the flesh (IS) or God (OUGHT).
This topic continues with the discussion of Overcoming Temptation.