It’s a simple question, really: What are we doing to each other?
Or, for those of us who need a little more priming of the pump: What impact and influence and affect do we have on the people around us?
Or, for those of us who wonder what the heck I’m getting at: Are we helping people up, to be what they’ve been made to be, even if it’s through constructive criticism, discipline, and tough-love, or are we keeping people down, preventing them from being what they could be?
For that matter, which people are we talking about?
Okay, maybe it’s not so simple, but I wish it were.
As I try to figure out what I’m getting at – what my heart’s trying to tell me – I’m reminded of something Jesus said when he was railing against the Scribes and Pharisees. It seems to be relevant to these thoughts:
“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking the doors, you locked them. You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.” Luke 11:44 (MSG)
And another cool one, from the KJV: “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” Matthew 23:24.
(I’m not at all sure that second verse is relevant, but I like it anyway. It’s fun. I mean, who uses gnats and camels for illustrations? Seriously.)
So, I’m wondering, I guess, are we enabling, encouraging, inspiring, emboldening, exhorting? Or, are we disabling, discouraging, deflating, and whatever other words are the opposite of those in the other sentence?
See if you can follow this: I’m picturing two gears, rotating in opposition directions, whose cogs (or whatever those knobby things are called) meet in the middle. Just for sake of this little picture I’m inventing, let’s say one of them is the driver and the other is dependent on the driver for motion.
If you’re the driver – the gear who is influencing and affecting the other gear – the first question is: What drives you? What makes you move? What fuels your fire? (I guess those are actually the first, second, and third questions.)
The next question is: Where your gears meet the next guy, are you putting upward or downward pressure on him? (Feel free to change the gender of the pronouns if it inspires you.)
I know the analogy breaks down when you add more gears and variables, so let’s not do that, because this is a simple question; remember?
What are we doing to each other?
Maybe we’re not doing anything.
Maybe we’re holding others down to gain some selfish advantage.
Maybe we don’t even know what we’re doing.
Maybe we know but we don’t want to talk about it.
Maybe we can’t figure out how to stop.
Maybe we need Jesus.
Maybe we need to speak the truth in love.
Maybe that means we acknowledge blind guides and hypocrites for what they are, but maybe we do that “in love”, offering what we have for the redemption and benefit of others rather than the oppression of others and exaltation of ourselves.
I don’t know, maybe I’m off base.
I’m just asking.
What are we doing?