Tuesday, July 5, 2011


In our Bible class the other day, we had an interesting discussion about 2 Corinthians 3.  In that chapter, Paul the Apostle is talking about how one goes about getting known by others.  He rhetorically suggests that some sort of 'letter of recommendation' is the worldly standard.  However, those who are in Christ, he asserts, don't need some letter written in ink.  No, those are insincere and easy to fake.  A follower of Christ should have the Spirit of God writing spiritual information on those that we are surrounded by.  In effect, those who know us ARE our living letters of reference for those who do not know us.  And it is not ourselves, but GOD who writes about us on to others' hearts, when we are walking in the spirit.

Wow... what a heady thought.  The passage emphasizes the difference between the outward and the inward.  The written Law vs. the inward changes of the human heart, shaped by God's spirit.  So, as the Bible class was wrapping up, the facilitator mused something to the effect of, "I wonder what it would take for us to really incorporate this type of living.  To be totally infused, taken over, changed by this idea so that every moment of our lives allows us to be that aroma of Christ..."  Immediately, I knew the answer to her question.

There are a few situations in our lives that, ideally, should change how the think, act, and feel about life.  Worldview changing events that usually happen suddenly.  For instance, getting married ought to be one of those events.  Done right, the marriage relationship reshapes how one thinks, acts and feels.  From "I do" onward, every waking moment, every decision will now be filtered through a new filter.  Married persons should throw away the "What is best for me" filter and be prepared to use the "What is best for us" filter from here on out.  That is... until one has children.  Then, the world shifts again.  Or it should, anyhow.

Anyhow, my point is... those events become what I have termed, "Central Organizing Principles".  The fact that a person has become married means that he/she should no longer consider him/herself as an individual, but as a unit.  You don't have to throw away the 'self', but you DO have to incorporate your "other" into your oneness, or things are bound to go wrong.  Every decision made will be made with the new situation in mind.  If a person goes around making decisions based on the old standard of simply 'self'... see how long that organizing principle works for you.

Sometimes, people are blessed/cursed with other life situations that become COPs for them.  Just ask anyone who has ever been in a debilitating accident and lost a limb.  Everyday, they have a physical reminder of what has changed for them.  For my family, we had a COP enter our lives in December of 2004, when my 18 month old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  Quick recap for those who don't know: Type 1 is different than Type 2.  It is an autoimmune disorder where one's body attacks one's pancreas and basically shuts it down, preventing your body from making the hormone: insulin.  Without daily injections of artificial insulin, a Type 1 diabetic will die within days.

So, our lives began to be shaped by this COP, diabetes.  We don't eat a bite without being aware of how much insulin to give.  We don't leave the house without supplies to manage diabetes: insulin pump, extra syringes, candy for quick sugar boosts, ketone strips, apple juice, etc.  We don't sleep without checking blood sugar levels.  We buy clothing based on what is comfortable to wear over the insulin pump so not too many people will notice it.  We don't go on dates without knowing that someone who is knowledgeable about diabetes will be watching the kids.  Although it isn't real to them just yet, diabetes will eventually have a say in who they choose to marry because it takes a special someone to deal with the added stress and health risks; my oldest daughter, who was also diagnosed with T1 just a few years ago, will also have to worry about whether to have children because of the added complications of her diabetes.  It doesn't go away, but it does fade into the background.  It is normal for us to check blood sugars before we eat... our COP has become normal for us and, thankfully, it is not often that we feel oppressed by it.

But, as I considered the question from my Bible class, it struck me that the Apostle Paul was writing about how Christ should be the COP, the Central Organizing Principle in the lives of those who claim to follow him.  One's decision to follow Christ should be a commitment that is life altering and should permeate every aspect of one's being.  What we eat, what we wear, how we treat others, even how we THINK of others... who we marry, how we do what we do, how we take care of our health... That is why I said earlier that some people are blessed/cursed by other situations that become COPs for them. 

In one line of thinking, it is certainly a curse.  I wouldn't wish diabetes (or any other chronic illness or debilitating accident) on anyone.  However, there is a lot of redemption that goes on for those who are willing to view it as a blessing.  Diabetes has taught my family to be strong in many ways.  Diabetes makes us rely on each other more, look out for each other, be more aware of each other's limits and abilities.  Diabetes has forced us to rely on God's blessings of family and friends, and in doing so, has exposed us to the influence of some amazing people.  As much as I would willingly and immediately throw off the oppressive influence of diabetes as a COP, I am grateful for the effect it has had in drawing us nearer to the heart of God.

My desire is to allow the influence of the Spirit of God to become more of a Central Organizing Principle in my life and in the life of my family.  Unlike diabetes, which forced it's way in... God waits to be invited in.  Once he receives that invitation, he begins to write my life on the hearts of others with whom I am in a relationship.  I hope to expand my portfolio of 'letters of reference' as God's love becomes my central organizing principle.

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