what are we doing to each other?

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?

7 thoughts on “what are we doing to each other?”

  1. yo yo yo, at midnight that’s a pretty good question, and one i needed to hear at that. i guess how i think of it is that i have three settings and only one truly works when relating to people. i can take, i can do nothing, or i can give. i think the goal of being a kid of the kingdom is to get as much kingdom stuff down to this crazy rock we call earth that we can.

    this question totally reminds me of rich mullins, the barefoot, broken down, lover of God. he gave everything he could, always. truly amazing is that he never ran out of give. every time he reached back into the void he came back with the gifts of heaven and he gave it all away. even though i didn’t know him personally he always got me to give the very best i had too.

    when i think how my attitude has been the past little bit i have been a taker. i feel like i have been using people as the wellspring instead of going to the Fount of which hymns are sung. the trick is to not get trapped in the neutral place. the neutral place is so deadly because when you are taking a good question can jar you awake. neutral is so blah, like a walking zombie, much more dangerous than someone straight dead to rights.

    i wish i had good answers on how to not be neutral or how not to be a constant taker, i just don’t know. what i do know is that your question got me thinking about rich, and that got me thinking about Jesus, and that reminded a ragamuffin like me that there is a whole storehouse of goodness bigger than Santa’s bag that is at my disposal. not to take for myself but to give to everyone around me.

    rich mullins said that if he got to heaven lookin’ all clean and unscarred and something quite the opposite than well worn then he probably did a diservice to the gospel. thanks for reminding me that we are made for giving.

    1. Very good question, Dale and great insights. When I first read your title question, “What are we doing to each other?” I immediately had the urge to remove the word “doing” from the question, which then states, “What are we to each other?”. It may be that before we try to find out why we do the things we do to each other, we just have to come to terms with what we are to teach other, what kind of a value do we put upon our relationships and our fellow citizens. Whatever we are DOING to each other is really a result of what we ARE to each other. I believe this is where Jesus Christ steps in and starts to change our actions by giving us a change of heart towards those around us. Great topic and always good to hear your thoughts, my friend.

    2. Great thoughts, Jarrod. That’s the kind of searching I’ve been experiencing and I’m glad to hear it’s resonating with you. I also love the Rich Mullins reference. At least some of his work and insights are near and dear to my heart. Makes me want to dig a little more in that field.

      I usually say what you’re saying with the idea that we are either primarily producers or primarily consumers. Jesus says that if we abide in the vine, we’ll bear much fruit, i.e. be producers, but if we don’t, if we’re merely consumers/takers, we can produce nothing. If our supply is flowing out to others, we’ll never run out. If we dam it up out of fear or selfishness or whatever, it stagnates and is fit for nothing.

      A serious come-to-Jesus session on a frequent basis seems to be good start at getting out of neutral.

  2. Bob – good point: What are we to each other? Are we islands or interdependent? Are we members of a body, relying upon and supporting one another toward restoration and strength? The answer, in abstract, seems obvious, but in practice it is not so clear. Thanks for adding to me today. Love you.

  3. Yeah,
    It’s like WE are the world and WE are the children. WE are the ones to make a better day, so let’s (let US) start giving. WE, US; you know what I mean? What are we doing here people? There’s a choice we’re making! Are we saving our own lives or are WE letting Jesus do that?
    Amen Brother, Amen.

  4. tony’ s a dork; a great, huge dork and, as such, we love him. or in spite of it we love him or something else entirely.

  5. wait, wait…the answer to this question really depends on the word emphasized in the asking of the question…

    WHAT are we doing to each other?

    What ARE we doing to each other?

    What are WE doing to each other?

    What are we DOING to each other?

    What are we doing TO each other?

    What are we doing to EACH other?

    What are we doing to each OTHER?

    Or…perhaps not…but it makes me laugh to think about it like that. mainly so i can be distracted from actually answering the question. because mostly what i tend to be…i mean REALLY be…when i’m around people who know me and love me is selfish. maybe not always, but i guess i feel like i am who i am when i’m at my worst. yuck.

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