Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ The Left and the Right of Spirit-led Problem Solving

          It used to be that, when I was involved in a gathering of Christians trying to solve problems within whatever group had come together, I would want to know one thing more than any other. Were these people beginning in their sarks (flesh), or in the Holy Spirit.
          I have known for a long time that anything done through dependence on the sark is incapable of coming to a God-honoring and Church-edifying conclusion,[1] so there’s virtually no value in letting a group of sarky-people tackle problems among them. If the fruit of the flesh[2] is evident as soon as conflict arises, it would be better for everyone to stop and pray until everyone is filled with the Holy Spirit.[3] Continuing in the flesh is certain to cause greater hurts, and bigger problems.
          When conflicts and disagreements are handled in the Spirit, and people come together in the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control that are the fruit of the Spirit’s activity in our lives,[4] there is every reason to feel hopeful about what God can do to build up his church.
          While this contrast between sark and Spirit is still a primary consideration in aiming for unity in conflict, I have now added another assessment to the top of the list. As I see people come together to handle differences, I watch for signs of whether people are relating only out of the left side of their brain, only out of the right side of their brain, or out of both sides of their brain.
          I say this because God designed us as body, soul, and spirit. When we are born again by the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, our spirits are made alive. We now have a body that is alive, and a spirit that is alive.
          The soul is the “us” part of our being. The soul relates to the material world through our bodies, and the spiritual world through our spirits. When we are dead in our trespasses and sins,[5] our soul can relate to life through our bodies, but not through our spirits. When God makes us “alive together with Christ,”[6] and he has, “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”[7]our spirits have been raised from the dead to now experience life as God intended in the beginning.
          When Christians come together to settle disagreements, we are now both physically and spiritually alive. Our soul, the life in us (our mind, emotions, and will), is able to fully relate to the material world through our brains, and the spiritual world through our spirits. The emphasis is on “able to”. Many church fights, and church splits, give evidence to the belief that too many professing Christians are not attaining what they are able to experience in Christ.
          The reason it is important to consider how people’s souls are relating to God and his people through their spirits, and through their brains, is because left-brain/right-brain experiences have a profound effect on how people communicate, and how they receive the communication of others.
          When people live primarily out of their left brain (a broken condition for both men and women), they speak and hear with a focus on facts and information. They will argue about who did what, or said what, until their left-brain can feel satisfied that all the facts and information line up just as they need them to.
          When people live primarily out of their right-brain (also a broken condition for both men and women), they speak and hear with a focus on what things feel like. They argue about what someone’s tone meant, or what they read into a look on someone’s face. Their concern is that everything end with good feelings, usually with a much greater consideration of their own feelings than anyone else in the gathering.
          People are designed to be spiritually alive, and physically whole. The sark messes with our spiritual growth, and life-experiences mess with brain development. In the middle is a soul that quite often does not have a clue what is going on, and why it has so much trouble getting along with people, or why it finds it so easy to get along with just a certain kind of person, while not having a clue how to relate to a certain other kind of person.
          It should be added that many marriage problems in the church are caused because couples have not learned to be filled with the Spirit together, and so there is usually a double-dose of sarkiness added to every conflict; and many marriage problems are exacerbated by the fact that one spouse is likely primarily left-brain, while the other is primarily right-brain. Both are equally broken, but the way they are broken makes it look to them like it is only the other one who needs fixing.
          A healthy soul, fed by the nurture of a Spirit-filled spirit, is able to improve the health of brains that have been beaten up and traumatized by life-experiences. Of course, it requires a healthy, Spirit-filled church to do this for each other, but it can happen.
          Our aim is to help people experience problem solving that is characterized by Spirit-filled living, souls that are being transformed through the renewal of the mind, with brains that grow healthier in relating to the material world as our souls and spirits cooperate to feed them good, joyful, hope-filled thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
          So, if anyone is wondering, I’m not sliding into the psychology camp that some Christians fear so much (usually showing they are stuck on one side of their brain or another). Rather, I am suggesting that the greater our health in body, soul, and spirit, and the greater percentage of believers who are healthy in body, soul, and spirit, the greater the likelihood of body-building adventures in church problem-solving.
          At the very least, this Scripture encourages me to seek the very best health of body, soul, and spirit, both in whatever problem-solving gatherings we are part of, and in the life of the Church no matter what we are going through together. Paul wrote, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[8] Please consider this as an attempt to encourage such things along.

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Galatians 5:16-17
[2] Galatians 5:19-21
[3] Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18
[4] Galatians 5:22-23
[5] Ephesians 2:1-3
[6] Ephesians 2:5
[7] Ephesians 2:6
[8] I Thessalonians 5:23

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