Friday, March 18, 2011

Time To Be BIG

I was talking with a friend today and during our conversation we discussed the pressures of being in ministries. It feels odd to even say this about myself, because I really don't see myself that way, but that doesn't change the daily pressures. The demands of ministry are ever present. They rest on your thoughts like an incontinent person on a commode, unmoving and always full. Maybe not the picture that you want for today so let's look at it this way. This thought dropped on me as I was typing to my friend on Skype. Ministries attract religion like a python to a pig in a pit. Once things grow beyond a few people doing exploits for Christ, being obedient to the call on their lives as individuals, to the point where they hang a name on the thing and a sign outside asking you to come in the stench of religion begins to slowly leak from every crevice.
The python wraps itself around the little piggies and starts to put on the pressure. He can feel their every pulse, their every wiggle, their every breath, and he wants it all. The breath enters against the crushing wall of the snake's power with the will to live screaming at the helm. The screams wither against the inevitable force of the remorseless animal power, and all our sense of duty, faith, and obligation crumbles while ministry awaits. Awaits the needful repose before the next attempt to gain oxygen. Awaits the inexorable grasp for life to empty the body cavity enough to cinch its grip ever tighter.
The real snake will eventually crush the life from its prey, and will, with no malice whatsoever, devour its meal. Kind of like me eating barbequed pork ribs; no malice, but the pig's going down. The spiritual snake however bears the most malevolent malice imaginable, and it feeds not on the final lifeless carcass, but on the gasping, grasping struggles for life. It depends on this. Once it has coiled about our hapless souls it imagines days and weeks of slow, succulent, striving. Its fattened form flaunting its power in our fearfully contorted faces. The reticulated ministry snake takes it rest with the victim ever at the edge of death.
As I typed this analogy in a brief text I wondered to myself how one can be free of this thing. The snake analogy left only one option. The option that I have never heard of in all the stuff I've seen or read about how to deal with ministry burnout. What do you do? When you try to fulfill the demands of ministry it takes everything from you, and like the snake it becomes an immovable wall upon which we must expend every available energy. Like the snake it never leaves you able to recover what is spent. The snake uses brute strength while ministry uses guilt, manipulation, and shame in rhythmic cycles. What do you do against this? This time the answer came clear and true. You die!
You die not to the, nor for the, ministry. You simply die. The power any ministry wields is based upon religion. If indeed a ministry needs to wield some power over its people, them religion will swiftly rise to the need. Religion's power lies in its ability to focus us on ourselves. It will focus on what we can do, and what will happen if we don't do. It will inject every line of life breathing scripture with the insidious taint of performance. It will feed on your struggles for life and your guilt ridden misery should you abandon it all in despair and bitterness. What it cannot do is feed on a dead carcass. Jesus knew this. Jesus let the beast of religion nail Him to a cross. Religion did not know that instead of its greatest victory being achieved it was instead forever revealing the path of freedom from its deadly coils. Death is swallowed up in victory.
Be a dead man walking and see how people react to the smell. Heh heh heh!
(2 Cor 2:16!)

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