Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Circle of Trash

There are specific times in my life when analyze myself, take account of the ups and downs, put myself on figurative trial and I realize just how severely messed up I am.  I've realized that there are extended periods of time when I will coast through this life, thinking that I have it all together.  I peer into my my soul, look at my moral condition, and say to myself, "You  know.  I'm doing OK.  I've got a handle on this thing called life.  I've grown to where I want to be.  I'm not who I once was."  But just like that, in the flash of an instant, the house of cards falls, a cloud envelops me and the curtain is drawn back.  It's as if I briefly step outside of myself, look at the man next to me and I suddenly become aware of just how prone I am to falling into a pretty depraved state.

I know what you might be thinking.  This is going to be a blog about sin and the negative aspects of how it effects our lives, right?  Well, yes and no.  By definition, and according to Christian doctrine, sins are transgressions that go in opposition to our religious beliefs.  And most of the things that I'm referring to, are in fact sins.  Sin is not a very popular topic among modern Christian circles these days.  None of us like to view ourselves through the proverbial sin microscope because if we're honest with ourselves, it reveals our imperfections, faults and the corruption that lies just below the surface.  Personally, I see it most clearly when I become complacent and apathetic to what I allow myself to think, say and do.  Before long, thankfully for short periods of time, my life looks nothing like the image of Christ.  But this blog is really not about sin by definition, when you get right down to it.  It's more about sin on a philosophical level.  Let me explain.

By nature, most of us are selfish people, right?  When it comes to our own happiness, peace and general well-being of life, we usually consider ourselves first, if even for only a brief moment.  We live in a culture that enables this kind of thought on a regular basis.  Most things we hear, read and see direct us to the self and what will give us the most pleasure, usually at the expense of someone else.  We are constantly slammed with advertising each and every day that convicts us to look within and screams, "It's about YOU!"  Before we know it, we develop a construct of living that places us at the center, leaving everyone else endlessly circling around us and demanding the focus to be put on them.  The problem is that the circle gets eventually gets cluttered with trash.

The self-constructed cocoon of individuality is not so appealing when it's polluted and starts to stink.  Our apathy toward others and even God might produce a temporary high of self sufficiency, but eventually we come down and have to go through an emotional detox.  And usually when this happens, we realize that we never wanted to be at the center in the first place.  Yes, being at the center puts the focus on us, but that's the problem, isn't it?  The self puts us on stage, and while we enjoy the cheers of the crowd for a while, the spotlight reveals more than the makeup can conceal.  

Diogenes Allen once said it like this: "We remain captives within a mental framework that has actually been broken. We are like prisoners who could walk out of prison because all that would enclose us has been burst open, but we remain inside because we are asleep."  You see, the circle has no walls.  It's just a facade we painted on the ground.  We can step over it whenever we like, but we remain, knee deep in the rubbish that we've created.  Freedom lies on the outside, in communion with others.  But we chose the self.  We chose what the self wants, rather than the best God offers us.  We chose bondage over freedom.
The Apostle Paul said, "For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."  In essence, Paul is saying that he found it easier to remain in the circle of trash.  He clearly knew the freedom that existed on the outside, but sometimes it was more appealing to lay among the piles of trash he created.  He saw the fields before him; clean and open.  He saw the multitudes calling his name, to run freely along his side.  But there were times when he could not escape the mental prison he sentences himself to.         
I admit that I've been in the circle.  I've been not only living in the trash, but somehow enjoying it.  I can see the freedom on the outside.  In fact, I've been there very recently.  I can see others that are running freely just outside the circle walls.  I hear them calling to me and questioning why I remain.  But for now, the circle of trash keeps me enclosed.  Like Paul, I know what's right.  I know what's best.  I know what God has called me to do in this life, and the circle is the last place He wants me to remain.  But, I see you on the outside of the circle.  I can hear you calling to me.  Trust me; I'm listening.              

1 comment:

Cheryl Ensom Dack said...

Powerful imagery, Jake...that circle of trash that has walls we only imagine. I think that analogy works for a lot of other things, as well.