Thursday, February 2, 2012

Paper Tigers Beware!

8-9Earlier, before you knew God personally, you were enslaved to so-called gods that had nothing of the divine about them. But now that you know the real God—or rather since God knows you—how can you possibly subject yourselves again to those paper tigers? 
(Galations 4:8-9 The Message)

I have to ask how many "paper tigers" we are held captive by in our lives - those things which appear as threatening as tigers, but really have no power over us until we give in to them?  In some cases, we "buy into" the bondage of certain thought patterns, or activities, simply because they seem to present something of "meaning" to our lives.  Rarely do we actually step back long enough to see if there is any advantages / disadvantages to these things we believe, or the activity we pursue just because someone told us it was the right thing to do.

You likely are as given to interpreting life by the "vantage point" you inhabit at this moment, just like I am.  When the "vantage point" seems to put me above some issue, avoiding direct influence from the issue at hand, I buy into the idea of not being affected by the issue.  A vantage point is simply any position which provides a good view!  If we are removed from something threatening far enough we feel less threat than we do when we are face-to-face with the same perceived threat!

Perception is the awareness of a situation - what we see is NOT always reality, though!  This is what Paul is speaking of in this passage - - rules, regulations, and the keeping of special days for the purpose of religious pursuit is just this - - religious pursuit!  In the end, these things bring us into a place of bondage because we don't realize they are keeping us from experiencing the reality of close, intimate relationship with our God.

Look at this passage again - God knows us personally - not in a superficial way, but in a deep, intimate manner.  He relates to us where we are, speaking into our lives through his Word, his servants, and even by nature itself.  We get to know the one we spend the most time with.  If we spend time with "paper tigers" - this is what we get to know!  If we spend time with the God of the universe - the universe opens up to us!

Simply put - we need to examine the things which threaten our developing an intimate relationship with Jesus.  When I use the term "intimate", I am referring to the open, honest, free-flowing exchange which occurs when two people know each other well.  There is trust, freedom of exchange, and a commitment to see life from the other's point of view.  This is so important for us simply because our point of view is not the best "vantage point"!  When we get to see things through HIS eyes, we often develop a much more realistic perception of life's paper tigers!