Many years ago in College my professor taught on Xerxes. The class was fascinating as he gave both a biblical and an historical view of Xerxes. The one thing that stands out to me is that historically, if a man were to be found guilty of a crime he would have to suffer lashes from a whip. You might think that is normal, and it is to a degree. But Xerxes took this to the farthest degree in that even if one were dead and found guilty of a past crime their body would be exhumed and he would cause the coupes to suffer lashes from the whip.
Now this is strange behavior without a doubt, however, I’ve realized that there are people in this world who only want to punish you. Their dysfunction runs so deep and their pain is so great that they only feel a brief moment of relief when causing you pain. In fact, their need to cause such suffering on you is insatiable, so much so that even after they were able to destroy you completely and walk upon your ashes they still would desire to resurrect you only to make you pay again.
More times than not, to sever ties with this sort of person or persons is costly. I have found that the cost sometimes means losing everything, yet I can say even that cost is worth it. It can cost you property, monies, friends and even family. At first glance, they are almost impossible to detect. The only sure way is looking at the path behind them, it is a road of total destruction. But how many of us do that?
I have been slated by members of my family over my reluctance to continue a relationship with my two children from my first marriage. What they cannot understand is the reasons I keep a wide birth between us. I can put it to you this way; take a candle and light it, then place your hand over the flame and hold it there. What would be your normal reaction after a few moments? You would pull your hand back as the flame would only get hotter burning your hand if you didn’t. The same is true emotionally. Severally dysfunctional people will continue to hurt you, much like the flame of the candle. There is a point where you will pull back, people can only take so much pain, withdrawal is the only solution else you would be consumed.
Hence, love with side effects! It doesn’t mean I don’t love my children, I certainly do, always have and always will. But I have experienced their dysfunctions first hand, I have witnessed their destructive behavior and I have intimate knowledge of their history. In a nut shell, whether I’m involved in their life or not, I’m viewed and treated as the “bad father.” This is the source of their dysfunction, it was hazed in them from early childhood by their mother and a preacher who’s only goal was to destroy my life.
Since my separation from my two children, my son has worked divisively, subsequently he has no direct access to me, and because of that he has worked to cause divisions between myself and some of my siblings.
So how do we combat such assaults and survive mentally and emotionally intact? The answer is simply really; I submit everything to God’s care!
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
The word “guard” is a military term picturing a sentry standing guard as protection against the enemy. We are always in a spiritual battle, God’s power and peace are the sentinels and protectors of our heart and mind. Prayer and peace are the brick and mortar of an impenetrable wall that only God can provide. I choose to remain behind that wall so whatever cost I have to endure I do so with God’s peace upon me.
The Side Effects of Love
Its debilitating mentally and emotionally when people assault you without clear rationality. Everyone knows the people who can hurt you the worst are the people you love the most, it’s the people closest to you who can inflict the most pain in your life. And one thing is for sure, no one is immune to deception. Most often than not, family operates out of their own self-interest, especially when it concerns you. And when you confront the assault coming from perpetrators, whether it be family, friends, or brothers and sisters in Christ you usually only get either excuses or deflection or a combination of both. Rarely do you ever get to the root issue where reconciliation is possible. People only want you to conform to their own egotism rather than defraud themselves.
I live by a simple rule; you can call it a conviction if you like but I never enter into anyone’s personal life without first being invited in. Likewise, I guard my personal life with extreme prodigious. I was accused by one of my sisters in recent months that I don’t do so only because I don’t care. You see, she is one of my siblings who has been turned against me by my son. In her line of thinking, she is justified to manipulate and deceive me, to side with my son and take on his persona of “bad father” against me. After many attempts which lead to aggression on my part to remove her from meddling in my life we too have split off and our relationship has been shattered. This is one side effects of love, I believed we were close and that nothing could come between us. I felt safe with her, that is until now. I never dreamed that a parting of the ways could happen to us.
People give themselves permission to trod into your personal life and rev havoc. I had another sister, who after I explained very clearly I wanted no contact from my two children said she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t contact me about my children. And contact me she did, explaining my daughter was having an emergency. I took the bait, and unblocking my daughter on facebook so she could explain what was happening only turn into an aggressive attack on me, there was no emergency. Again, another side effect of love. Now this has not lead to a separation between my sister and I but it has done damage to our relationship as from where I stand trust has been broken. My siblings have refused to except and honor my boundary’s. And as I have explained to them, I have a very good reason for such boundary’s.
In the Church
Turning to the church there are many side effects of love. One such side effect is that of the “group think.” The problem with the group think is it is always formed by the personality in the pulpit. In my thirty-seven years in the church body this most often centers more around the legacy of the leader rather than the unification of the body and the exultation of Christ. The purpose of doctrine, of teaching, and of the assembly is to build up the body into the unity of the faith and to teach God’s people to conform to the image of Christ. Instead, what we always get are the by-products of the “group think.”
By-products of the “group think.”
Conformity: Indoctrination rather than sound doctrine is the tool to which people conform to the “group think.” So what do I mean by that, well, people are conditioned from birth (spiritual birth) to being spoon fed. This fosters a dependence upon church leadership rather than upon God. In Philippians 3:14-15 Paul said, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” (Emphasis Mine) A mature believer is only looking up, they mind heavenly things, they are about the business of the kingdom of God and they seek only those things which are above, where Christ is (Col. 3:1-4). They also seek the unity of the whole body of Christ, not just one particular denomination with their own pet doctrines and agenda. I’m not talking about ecumenicalism, but the connection we all have where Christ is the head, where Jesus Christ has the preeminence. The one thing all denominations have in common, even though their “group think” differs and their doctrine fluctuates is in one way or another they all are legalistic. We will see this shortly in the points below.
Exclusivity: You’ve heard the term “us four and no more” haven’t you? What started in the first generation church as an outward light to the world has ended with the modern church as an inward social club full of spiritual elites. Each domination has become a little kingdom of its own design, and of course, they are the true church who have all the answers. But as I stated above, the one common denominator all denominations have is legalism, in one form or another.
Legalism is when a Believer is judged for not keeping certain codes of conduct the Church believes they need to observe. It can be seen carried out when one does not succumb to a particular “group think,” especially when one is a discerner and follows biblical truths contrary to the “group think.” Contempt to holiness is a frequent problem in the church and such things as fornication, adultery, lying, stealing, etc. are areas the church has full authority to judge. There are however debatable areas where the church over reaches its authority, even infringes upon people and violates one’s personal freedom in the Lord. In my experience I have seen most churches develop its own bias code of conduct that isn’t necessarily in compliance with the Scripture. They emphasize a system of regulations for achieving spiritual growth, at least what they consider spiritual growth should be. For example, in nearly all the churches I have been involved in, what and how you give, this includes your monies and your time and talents determine your state and status in the church. Maturity is never measured by one’s Spiritual growth, i.e. knowledge and discernment of the Scripture, Christ likeness, etc. but is determined by how active you are within the four walls of the Church structure. Refusal to comply is always met with exclusion and Ostracization.
Ostracization: To be ostracized can mean you are excluded from privileges in the church or it can mean you are rejected entirely. In extreme cases, you are eliminated as a member of the church body and marked as a heretic. You see this is where lordship salvation plays a big role in the modern church.
“Lordship salvation” teaches that included in grace and faith, that is, as part of God’s saving work, God will produce repentance, faith, sanctification, yieldedness, obedience, and ultimately glorification. In other words, submitting to Christ as Lord goes hand-in-hand with trusting in Christ as Savior. On the surface this sounds biblically sound as Ephesians 2:8-10 says; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Accepting Jesus as Lord does not refer to a subjective commitment to Christ’s lordship in one’s life, but rather a repentance (or changing of one’s mind) about one’s ideas of who Christ is.
Lordship salvation teaches that a true profession of faith will be backed up by the evidence of faith. True conversion produced by faith yields good works. The question is, to whom are good works to be authenticated? To God? Or men? For men, one’s lifestyle of sin must be forsaken and they are to change their ways which becomes a prerequisite to saving faith. This is where the doctrine gets murky and we find ourselves in the gray. Many simply brush the issue aside as a matter of semantics. Yet Scripture clearly teaches we are saved solely by Christ’s righteousness (Rom. 10:3-4), and that no self-righteousness is required, in fact, any self-righteousness is impossible (Titus 3:5). Repentance is absolutely necessary for salvation, but it is repentance toward Jesus Christ, because one realizes their guild of sin under God’s Law. This is vastly different than Lordship Salvation which requires a sinner to cease from living in sin to be saved.
This is the unconscious rule nearly every modern domination operates by. It is this unspoken rule which governs the institutional Church, that propitiates the churches need for performance rather than a conformity Jesus Christ and a life of faith in Him. This is where love with side effects becomes the spectacle of Christianity. If your performance acquires the endorsement of the church, acceptance is the outcome, but if not, you are a nemesis.