This year we have covered the first nineteen chapters of The Gospel According To Matthew and the parable in Matthew chapter 20. This week we are looking at the definitions and applications of the words "Enemy" and "Friend". In the previous post, we covered "Friend" examples from the Old Testament. Here was the summary:
The Old Testament has less direct explanations of Friend. However, the passages covering Friend are consistent with everything we've covered so far.
Today, we will pull this all together...
FRIENDSHIP, FELLOWSHIP, LOVE, AND GRACE
I need to begin this post with a warning...
WARNING: The following represents a Model I see happen constantly. This is how I see it. This causes me to mourn. However, the only thing that makes me sadder than oblivious people who follow this model to their demise are the people who have this information and intentionally choose not to know...so they can intentionally follow this model to their demise.
Everything ought to begin with the First Command: Love the Lord with all your being...heart, spirit, soul, strength.
This is all you can do.
The effect of this is the Second Command: God flowing through you to love your neighbor.
Attempting to do the Second Command in your own strength is possible in the short-term, but it is a work that will eventually wear you out.
The only way to love others is to know what they value. This requires you to share with them...and them to share with you. Sharing is the HOW of Grace, Love, Fellowship, and Friendship. Sharing can continue to be new for eternity. (You may want to meditate on this revelatory fact.)
If we do the First Command to the extent we are in Fellowship with God, then we will be able to be in Fellowship with others who are in Fellowship with God. We don't have to worry about relating to others who are in Fellowship with God...God will take care of this as an effect of Fellowship with God.
This leads to Three Way Fellowship.
1. The individual is in Fellowship with God directly.
2. The person can draw on God through the person he is in Fellowship with.
3. The person can experience God when someone else draws on God through him.
As long as you are growing in Fellowship with just one person who is growing in Fellowship with God, you ought to be able to continually live in grace.
Can you name the person you are growing in Fellowship with who is also growing in Fellowship with God?
If you are having a dry period, it ought to cause you to intentionally grow in Fellowship with the person you just identified...intentionally share with them.
Nathaniel has explained Fellowship to me in terms of MUSIC. He sees it like there is a string between two people. Fellowship is achieved when that string reaches its unique frequency...its unique "note" shared by ONLY these two people. When it comes to this string, there needs to be tension and looseness. If there is no tension, the note is flat. If there is no looseness, the note is sharp.
Nathaniel's revelation is we need BOTH tension and looseness to have Fellowship with people.
Turns out, Nathaniel understood our brains better than I knew...
"...we have two separate pleasure systems in our brains, one that has to do with exciting pleasure and one with satisfying pleasure. The exciting system relates to the "appetite" pleasure that we get imagining something we desire, such as sex or a good meal. Its neurochemistry is largely dopamine-related, and it raises our tension level."
"The second pleasure system has to do with the satisfaction, or consummatory pleasure, that attends actually having sex or having that meal, a calming, fulfilling pleasure. Its neurochemistry is based on the release of endorphins, which are related to opiates and give a peaceful, euphoric bliss." (The Brain That Changes Itself)
Tension plays into our dopamine system. Looseness plays into our endorphin system. Every "pleasure" people experience is related to one or both of these systems...
Complimenting people is ONLY endorphin based.
Riding roller coasters are largely dopamine based.
The greatest thrills are associated with BOTH...first creating tension and then relieving the tension. Taking an emotional risk with a woman is the greatest thrill a male can experience.
However, pornography creates the tension without having to take a risk with another person.
There are a lot of people who want Fellowship...and even Friendship...without the tension and risk with others...just like porn addicts.
There are a lot of people who think Friendship is an effect of hanging out together a lot...that if we just keep people together long enough, they will become Friends. If this was true, then we would all be Friends with the people that we used to hang out with...
However, a string on a musical instrument does go out of tune...and when it does, it almost always needs to be tightened. In the same way, to continue our friendships we need to constantly bring tension...to continue to be uncomfortable...to share.
I've noticed that teenagers and twenty-somethings incorporate both tension and looseness in their friendships. However, their friendships end when they become so tense they are unable to Repair. Ask someone why they no longer hang around with people they knew during their teens and twenties. The answers usually involve "growing apart" (which means there wasn't enough tension to keep the exchange Profitable) OR naming an incident...a time when it got too tense. Someone said something hurtful, did something hurtful, or offended a friend/spouse of the person.
So, once people get into their thirties, the lesson they think they've learned is: you have to relax in order to have friends. You can't be tense AT ALL. So, all the friendships involve trying to be non-confrontational...and these friendships never give the thrill the friendships of their youth provided...and they don't have the tension to last over the Long Term.
If people are unable to Repair, then the best they can do is remove all the tension from the friendship.
Even so, hanging out with people is an effect of Friendship...it is an effect of Fellowship...it is an effect of WANTING to get to know someone MORE and wanting to be known MORE by someone else. Hanging out is an effect of MUSIC...
The Ultimate version of ALL of this is OUGHT Marriage. You can't get to OUGHT Marriage without going through grace, love, Fellowship, and Friendship...
By the way, "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Dr. Norman Doidge has an entire chapter on sex and love. It covers porn addiction. It is the only chapter that doesn't get to the bottom rung. It is the only chapter the author consistently qualifies his statements...
However, it turns out "Modeling God's Wills" nails it...physiologically.
Dr. Doidge wrote about being more attracted to a woman who is less beautiful...to literally finding a physical "flaw" more attractive... because all the good memories are associated with that woman...and the physical "flaw". He wrote about the effects of each pleasure system...addiction and tolerance. Addiction when we WANT more. Tolerance when we NEED more to get the same effect.
"A tolerance, akin to tolerance for a drug, can develop in happy lovers as they get used to each other. Dopamine likes novelty. When monogamous mates develop a tolerance for each other and lose the romantic high they once had, the change may be a sign, not that either of them is inadequate or boring, but that their plastic brains have so well adapted to each other that it's harder for them to get the same buzz they once got from each other." ("The Brain That Changes Itself")
What the couple bonded over initially is the area they need to keep introducing novelty in. The couple determines the area they have to constantly drive in order to attain the same level of pleasure. Depending on what the couple chose, they could be creating a work for themselves that will eventually wear them out. This can be traveling, going out to dinner, buying clothes, sex, etc.
The writer then goes after the solutions everyone talks about:
"Fortunately, lovers can stimulate their dopamine, keeping the high alive, by injecting novelty into their relationship. When a couple go on a romantic vacation or try new activities together, or wear new kinds of clothing, or surprise each other, they are using novelty to turn on the pleasure centers, so that everything they experience, including each other, excites and pleases them." ("The Brain That Changes Itself")
He writes that every novelty causes the brain to re-image the spouse. The key to getting the SAME burst of energy from your spouse and friends is to INCREASE the novelty or level of the activity you've bonded over.
People who bond over sex are going to need to keep introducing novelty into sex.
We've seen that Three Way Fellowship...letting God direct you towards your spouse...is the ONLY way to have a Marriage that is NOT a work.
We know that not touching for a year encourages the couple to SHARE...to train their brain to value the other person according to SHARING...which can be novel forever! This is Fellowship! This is the key to eternity...to constantly experiencing something MORE forever in Church and Marriage!
When sharing is the cause, sex becomes an effect. In fact, I wrote in "Modeling God's Wills" how SHARING after sex is the most important time to share. Dr. Doidge wrote, "It is the afterplay, not the foreplay, that counts in building trust." There are chemicals running around the person so that EVERYTHING done after intercourse is imprinted on the person's brain.
Again, people who have read "Modeling God's Wills" already know all of this...and watching others who are oblivious to this AND intentionally ignore this information is just sad.
Friendship is knowing the person well enough that you can speak for them AND building enough trust with the person that you are allowed to speak for them.
Grace is the Ultimate admission God is your Friend.
Loving others is the Ultimate proof you are a Believer.
Fellowship is the Ultimate proof the person you are in Fellowship with is in Fellowship with God.
Are you God's Friend?
Are you allowed by God to speak for Him?
Do you know God well enough to speak for Him?
I can tell you all of this occurs because of sharing MORE with others...which is uncomfortable. Attempting to limit the sharing of others is manipulative and can't in any way be consistent with God's influence.
God has given me a tremendous revelation (directly and through others) over the past week that is consistent with this topic.
I had planned on finishing Matthew chapter 20, but I believe God wants me to share this revelation.
So, I will spend next week covering a fresh revelation concerning Three Way Fellowship...