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Are We Doormats?(2-19-04)
Regarding the doormat discussion.
I too can identify with both of the discussions below. Such questions have been the subject of many hours of pondering for me over the years. Almost every conceivable response to many challenging situations has been rehearsed in my mind. My practice has included examples of many contradictory approaches.
Yes, finally each of us must act in obedience to His voice within us. If we are clearly focused on who we are, His obedient servants, the issues of how we appear to others and the results of our choices become secondary, though not insignificant. As servants of Jesus we are to speak and act as He did, remembering always that we can do this only as He speaks and acts through us. We are never the master, of anyone. We only represent and point to the Master.
But as representatives of the Master, we should not see ourselves as weak or helpless victims. If we seem to be victims, it is because He is again, through us, choosing to do His work while appearing to be the victim. We must not forget that through such encounters His strength is established, and sometimes displayed and recognized.
As I have pondered these questions for many years, it has been helpful to realize that most of the "What if..." situations hardly ever occur as they are hypothetically described.
Also helpful is the realization that most of the assumed pairs of alternative choices which are offered in hypothetical (or real) situations do not include the better way offered by the Lord.
An example in a confrontational situation is the choice of whether to dominate or be dominated. We are called to neither.
We are not to dominate. We come as servants, as followers of the One who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. We seek to control nobody.
But neither are we subject to domination. We serve the King, and Him alone. We are not permitted to do anything which is not His will, regardless of what anyone may ask or demand, whoever they are, whatever the circumstances, whenever, wherever, for whatever reason. The loving practice of this committment is
sometimes seen as an incredible demonstration of strength.
The doormat image brings to my mind the concept of being walked over by everyone coming to the door, and receiving the deposits of a lot of mud wipers, if not mud slingers.
Perhaps the alternative image some would offer us is the vicious guard dog, who growls and makes it clear that anyone who tries to enter the door will regret his choice.
A better image might be the obedient door, which opens gracefully to the gentle touch of the Masters hand, but remains securely and
firmly bolted if He so chooses.
"At work I receive lots of rude comments and degradation and that's ok because I give them back, it's all in good fun...."
Is it really ok and good fun to make rude comments? I'm not convinced. The New Testament instructions on living have led me to conclude otherwise.
But, as always, I try to be open to evidence I haven't given full
consideration until now. Is degradation really ok and good fun?
"...I am a good target. I don't fight back."
If fighting back means taking out a switchblade, clenching a fist, insulting ,belittling, or suing, then I too am committed not to fight.
If that is all we think of as fighting, we have been sucked into secular thinking.
We are to fight the good fight of faith. The weapons we have available are more effective than the weapons of the world, useful for the breaking down of strongholds.
We can think of the purpose of fighting as disabling and overcoming. The presence and the words of Jesus in the garden caused the soldiers to fall on their faces. There are times when the steady gaze and the gently (sometimes forcefully) spoken words of His followers have had similar dramatic effects. Sometimes a simple "Why did you do that?" or "Why did you say that?" or "Just what do you mean by that?" can bring a sudden quiet hush to a raucous situation.
Because such simple questions can be so effective when they demonstrate an alternative Spirit, they must be used as carefully as a switchblade.
As we experience the the reality of the power of the Spirit which has been given us, and as we live in the confidence of that Spirit, others will increasingly see that we are not helpless victims.
We are not doormats. Perhaps we are doorkeepers.
I thank both of you for willingly entering this discussion. May it
continue. My opinion is that there are no more important questions than the ones you open. The answers to these questions are key indicators of our identity.