30 Aug 2003

Sewing on New Labels

Submitted by theshovel
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The power residing in a simple label easily deceives by side-stepping reality and playing primarily upon perception. Consider, when a seller offers a unique or superior product it can be labeled and sold according to what it is, but if someone wants to dominate in a saturated market a brand needs to be created. Successfully establishing such an image has the ability to transform the ordinary into extraordinary, trash into treasure, old into new, and even nothing into something!

Now if you're like me, you've played the sucker more times than you'd care to admit. In retrospect, I've often wondered how I ever allowed myself to be tricked by the never ending less-than-honest attempts to relieve me of my substance ... until the next dupe, that is! Though they should be obvious to spot, I wonder what false labels I'll buy into today ... including those sewn on religious clothes? No, no, I'm not referring to ceremonial vestures worn by religious devotees, but instead to that which adorns what our religious mentality perceives as the real person. Yes, grave clothes.

When viewing photos of Egyptian mummies I expect to see them wrapped in very old and partially rotted rags. It's a grotesque but fitting picture because death and decomposition make for good buddies. The fact is I am no more repulsed by the mummified clothing than I am by the mummified body. A caption beneath such an image designating the clothing as the burial garment makes sense. On the other hand, a mummified body dressed in a new three-piece suit grates against my senses, and it would take a carefully executed ad-campaign to cause me to perceive the two as belonging together.

Okay, let's flip this picture around and consider an odd possibility. If you lived in a society that regarded mummy wrappings as a highly respectable form of clothing do you suppose you would wear them ... if you could afford them, that is? Now, if you need a reality check in this department go ask the fashion-police to describe your current wardrobe or else go take another look at that dreadfully embarrassing photo in the family album.

Who can really say they would draw the line at a certain trend when it has been proven otherwise by their record? Like it or not, we are more affected by what the world around us perceives as appropriate than we might imagine. However, let's not make the mistake of assuming that discernment experts are needed to steer us clear of every perception deception, for the real discernment is to simply be aware how easily our perceptions have been--or are being--modified.

Good chances are that if a society valued the clothing of the dead as an indicator of high community standing, I daresay many would be scrambling for every opportunity to display their worth among the more superior citizens--even many of those who imagine that disdain for such a show makes one superior! Now, at the risk of sounding even more absurd I tell you that such a world exists and that we have been living in it for quite some time!

I only tell you what you have sensed your whole life because like me you have had to make countless adjustments over the course of your lifetime in order to co-exist with yourself and with the world around you. What I'm saying is that we have been forced to design our own personalized defenses to protect ourselves from universally recognized contradictions that would render us unable to carry out a normal life. Most modifications are simply taken for granted, while those that are challenged have the power to paralyze us.

Consider the morality of a world we have learned to accept, only through major modifications, where:

* love is a thinly-veiled mask
* patience is extended only to those who are part of the club
* hope is found in cheating another of his
* generosity is limited by who's looking
* faith gives reason to tear down those who don't agree
* confidence is built upon self-righteousness
* goodness is an attempt to gain favor
* God is a system by which one validates his value above another

Somehow, something within us knows that these virtues should have real substance. This demand within us remains despite the fact that morality has taught us to categorize them as delicately-balanced principles, containing just enough good to offset the inherent bad that is always present. The fuel behind morality debates may appear to be true good versus true evil, but in reality they are merely conflicts of degrees ... and one side is easily able to point out the hypocrisy of the other because each moral viewpoint has been forced to make adjustments for the inclusion of degrees of evil.

If we were to insist upon viewing reality as it truly is in Christ we might just discover what our hearts already know. For in the place where the world's widely-differing views of perception have no standing at all, their related confusion simply melts away into meaninglessness. That place is the reality of the resurrected life of Christ, the son of God, the one who is proclaimed to all as freedom from the personalized condemnation each has adopted under the name of morality.

Continued next time: New Labels & the Morality-Entrepreneur


theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: Sep-07-03 by Neil

You know, Jim, it was not but four short years ago that, had I read today's message I would have been scratching my head in bewilderment. "What is this lunatic talking about?" I would have been saying. The reality of Christ's life AS my life would have been foreign to me.

Certainly I would have known about the religious clothing and the tags, but I would have thought that this is just the way it is. Of course when it came to my particular choice of religious duds I didn't think that I wore any--as most everyone who is wearing them thinks. Okay, in actuality I knew I was wearing religious clothes and that they had tags like everyone else but that is part of the denial one must have in order to accept this perception that it must be this way.

I think it is interesting to note that when it comes to "putting on" anything we are told to put on "the new man" rather than new clothes or anything else that gives some visual semblance of change. But this isn't some kind of action that we engage in by trying to make this "old man" that is our flesh or our way of living and thinking into something new. This "new man" is the all-new creation that has been made by the action of Christ into our being. It's not another coat of paint or a tune-up or some kind of recyling. There is none of what we were; only all of what He is! The "new man" is in reality Christ himself. But until we come to that understanding we will continue to do our fashion shopping at the stores of those who are modeling the latest styles, telling us that this is what we need....until the next "in" style comes along.

Posted: Sep-07-03 by Bill


Each letter reaches out to challenge every single one of us who thinks we're "there" as some sort of status symbol in comparison to everyone else. Gotta love someone who can say, "The Emperor has no clothes!" to you, all the while we're either scratching our head to figure out what you mean or nodding our head in agreement thinking that your talking about all those "other" people! You really do gotta love it.

Love ya, bro!
Bill the HarryTick

Posted: Sep-07-03 by Jim V

Man, this is a good article but what were you smokin' when you wrote it? Only kidding. But my simple Alabama (retired rocket scientist) mind had trouble with all the fency words and phrases.

Please try to keep the "letter" a little less complex next time and just tell us about our freedom thru Jesus. Jim

Posted: Mar-06-07 by Dignz

"If you lived in a society that regarded mummy wrappings as a highly respectable form of clothing do you suppose you would wear them ... if you could afford them, that is?"

Ah, but we sooo DO, don't we?! (I can hear the voices along with Tonto to the Lone Ranger, "What mean 'we' Kimosabe?") Come on, let's be honest!

"perception deception" ... I like that! Now there's a good 'label'! You should 'market' it!

Yes, yes ... perceptions! We are all victims of them, aren't we? What to do with them, what to do with them!

"... viewing reality as it truly is in Christ ... the reality of the resurrected life of Christ, the son of God, the one who is proclaimed to all as freedom from the personalized condemnation each has adopted under the name of morality." Well, that's it, isn't it?! The answer! Our only Hope is Christ Himself! The True and solid Hope! <--need that little bouncy guy here!!

Graveclothes! Another wonderful visual object lesson!!

"... adjustments..." and "personalized defenses to protect ourselves" ~ yes, good stuff. It is such a bondage in itself isn't it? So wearying.

And how about this thought? What other protection does a sheep have among wolves but to put on wolves' clothing? A wolf puts on sheep's clothing to deceive, to capture, to bite, to devour, to consume and to destroy. A sheep would put on a wolf's clothing to try to 'fit in' and protect itself from the destruction of the wolves. Yet, it is all still facade isn't it? That is what I think of when we think we have to turn to 'religion' for our maintenance and sustenance of anything pertaining to God. I doubt the wolves are as easily deceived by the sheep as the sheep are of the wolves? What do we do with that? It just seems we are all vulnerable. And it begs the question: is there really even safety in numbers? Large groups of sheep get sucked in and devoured by the deception that is in the religious world of wolves.

I thank GOD for your sheepfulness Hey! Wait a minute! Are we even sheep at all!? How about that question? I am thinking too much now! A wandering mind is not such a wonderful thing!

Okay ... ever onward ...

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Random Shovelquote: Asking God to remove your sin (view all shovelquotes)

Now, if any of you are hearing this with the spirit of condemnation hanging over your head, it’s only because you’re trying to hold on to two radically different propositions at the same time. It’s like trying to travel east and west simultaneously. But trying to do the one while believing we are still doing the other is the very thing that leaves us confused and paralyzed. You see, asking God to help you to remove your sin is built upon the assumption that Jesus Christ hasn’t already done it. source