Too much baggage to carry!

Do you know what it means to be tyrannized by something or someone?  It means to exercise absolute or control over someone - so much so that they are cruelly oppressed.  Peter directs us today to thinking of our old way of living as "tyrannizing" our new way of walking with Christ.  In fact, he says it is a matter of our old way of living always oppressing us by demanding what it wants.

Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.  (1 Peter 4:1-2 The Message)

Something which is oppressive is first of all way too harsh.  Think of what Peter is saying - our old way of living (self-directed, self-demanding) is way too harsh in the demands which are made.  I have come to recognize there is no "happy medium" with my old way of living before Christ - my "self-man" demanded its own way so much more than I'd probably like to acknowledge.  The choices I made were a direct result of living under a "tyrant" - my self-man!

Secondly, something which is oppressive is burdensome - overly so, in fact.  There is something of a "weight" attached to each of the demands of our "self-man" which we may not recognize.  The more we respond to the demands of our "tyrant" self, the "weightier" the burden is to always keep up with these demands.  Talk to anyone with an addiction and they will be the first to tell you about the "weight" of their burden!

So, Peter sets out to instruct us on what it is God uses to help us be "unburdened" from the oppressiveness of our self-man.  Key to being unburdened is this idea of changing the way we think.  He says we need to learn to think like Christ.  Easier said than done, right?  Have you ever tried to change your mind once you had it made up to do something?  It is harder than we imagined.  

Why is this the case?  Our thoughts are "instigators" of action.  As a result, once the thought is "burned into" our brains - actions come more out of habit than as a course of purposeful thought.  God wired us this way so we would not have to always be "consciously" thinking of the stuff which should come naturally to us - such as brushing our teeth or walking.  If we constantly had to think about putting one foot in front of the other, we'd never enjoy the journey!

Since God wired us for "habit", why is it he did not wire us for good habits alone and make it almost impossible for us to form bad habits?  This brings us to the point of "will" - God wanted us to love and serve him not out of mere "habit", but by purposeful pursuit.  He wants a people who "actively choose" to follow him - even if it is a struggle between the "self-man" and the "new man".  We determine our allegiance through this "purposeful struggle".  

I am not saying our pursuit of God's best in our lives can never become "habit", but every habit begins with purposeful choice - thought.  Therefore, to get out from the tyrannical rule of our self-man, we need to make purposeful choices to no longer allow our self-man to put on the weighty burdens of guilt, shame, and excess baggage it so desires us to carry!  The first step to being out from under the weight of our burden it to stop picking up anymore baggage!

I think Peter might have been trying to tell us there will be times when God "plans" our unburdening.  In these times, he directs our course so we will come face-to-face with our "load" and desire to be "out from under it".  Peter refers to these times as "suffering".  Regardless of how we view them, they are designed for our good, not for further "weight" in our lives.  In fact, in these times, God's plan is for us to have less weight!

Remembering the action begins with a thought, Peter directs us to be conscious of our thought.  To learn to think like Christ takes a lot of work up front.  We have to redirect our thoughts a whole lot in the beginning, until they actually become more natural or "habit" later on.  In the end, our "new habit" of thinking "right" takes the place of the old way of thinking.  In turn, we leave behind some of the baggage of the past.  We are out from the weight of our self-man's demands.  This is a good place to be.

Most of us will not live long under the tyranny of another - we work our way to a place of escape, don't we?  Now, why is it we struggle so much with getting out from under the control of our self-man?  Maybe we have not come to the place of recognizing just how much of a tyrant it is!  Once we do, we want nothing more than to be free of the unjust rule of such an evil task-master!  So, begin with the knowledge of the weight existing.  Then ask God to trace the weight back to the place you actually picked it up - taking it on as emotional, spiritual, or relational baggage.  This is the place where we can usually identify the "thought" behind ever picking up the "baggage" in the first place.  If it doesn't come easily, just keep asking God to reveal the "thought" behind the baggage.  He will be faithful to reveal it.  Once revealed, you are at a place to begin to "change" the thought which will begin a path of "unburdening".  

Just remember this - baggage is always baggage when it is packed and carried.  It is nothing more than an empty shell when it is finally unpacked - and this is what God will help us to do!


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