Mike Cope's blog

Monday, July 12, 2004

Reentry "Several times a year I disengage from American culture, either on a visit to a foreign country or on a hiking trip into the wilderness. Each time, on return, I experience a jolt of reentry, a psychic adjustment similar to what astronauts must go through physically upon return to earth. I turn on a television sitcom and listen to the innuendoes and sarcastic put-downs and the canned laughter that follows. I watch the commercials promising sexual conquests if I drink a certain beer and professional esteem if I rent from a certain car company. The first day back, modern culture betrays itself as a self-evident lie, a grotesque parody of the day-to-day life I know. The next day my reactions moderate. A few days later I am breathing the air of lust, consumerism, selfishness, and ambition, and it seems normal." - Philip Yancey

7 Comments:

  • I have never directed people to my blog on Mike's blog, but I have a post titled Running On Empty that you may read in regards to Mike's post at www.chrismith.blogspot.com

    By Blogger chrismith, at 7/12/2004 07:15:00 AM  

  • Re-entry - I have experienced that! Not just returning from a misssion trip or a time away from the culture, but in everday life.
    Sunday mornings after we have been on "higher ground" nothing brings me crashing down faster than the car radio coming on as we start the car. Why didn't it bother me driving TO church? Or after Life Group Sunday night when feeling refreshed and challenged only to come in and see the 10 o'clock news. Or on the way home from a Ladies Retreat stopping to "shop" - fun, but seems to fly in the face of the weekend.

    Should we just be grateful that we can get away enough to experience re-entry, or should we be ashamed that we ever feel "comfortable" in our lives?

    By Blogger SG, at 7/12/2004 07:46:00 AM  

  • I think it's important for us to experience all three ... higher ground, reentry, and comfort zones. The awareness of all three causes us to remember how so many people have spent their entire lives in comfort zones and know nothing of the mountaintops we've visited. If we never experience life in the comfort zone ourselves, we won't know that its lifelong residents need to find Jesus and experience abundant life on an elevated plane.

    By Blogger Clarissa, at 7/12/2004 08:49:00 AM  

  • I wish someone at Higland would start a course using the book "Wild at Heart." I read it while travelling this summer, and while I don't agree with everything in it, I think it is a great call to "manliness" which I think helps us be more aware of these types of things, and better able to deal with them. Who knows, maybe I should offer to start one this summer (after all the papers are turned in!)....I dunno if there would be enough interest, but I think it would be a great study for a lot of men, young and old to engage in....

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 7/12/2004 10:21:00 AM  

  • “Enoch found himself facing a life size four color picture of a gorilla. Over the gorilla’s head, written in red letters was “GONGA! Giant Jungle Monarch and a Great Star!! Here in person!!” At the level of the gorilla’s knee, there was more that said “Gonga will appear in person in front of this theatre at 12 a.m. today! A free pass to the first ten brave enough to step up and shake his hand!”
    Enoch turned and asked the nearest child what time it was. The child said it was 12:10 and that Gonga was already ten minutes late. Another child said that maybe the rain had delayed him. Another said, no not the rain, his director was taking a plane from Hollywood. Enoch gritted his teeth. The first child said that if he wanted to shake the star’s hand, he would have to get in line like the rest of them and wait his turn. Enoch got in line.
    In spite of himself, Enoch couldn’t get over the expectation that something was going to happen to him. It operated on him all the rest of the day. He had only a vague idea what he wanted, but he was not a boy without ambition: he wanted to become something. He wanted to better his condition. He wanted, someday, to see a line of people waiting to shake his hand.”

    This is an excerpt from a short story by famed southern writer Flannery O’Connor. It draws from events in the fictional life of a young man named Enoch. Enoch is impressionable and ambitious. He is wants to be appreciated, longs to be accepted, and is desperate to be loved. When he realizes that crowds will gather to shake the hand of a man in a monkey suit, he hatches a bizarre plan; to kill the man and steal his suit, so that people will shake his hand.
    Enoch’s story is familiar even if the circumstances are extreme. All of us long for some kind of acceptance, all of us want to be appreciated, all of us need to be loved. We may not be willing to kill to get it, but all of us have been tempted to put on the monkey suit.
    We live in a world that is based on image. As a college student who minored in communications, I spent a year taking a couple of advertising classes and I can testify to this. But you don’t have to take advertising classes to know that the world wants to sell us something. Just open your mailbox (real or computerized) and look at the junk. The world promises us love and acceptance if we will simply be willing to buy its product, take its image, put on the latest version of the monkey suit. This world that is based on image, longs to make us in its image. It promises a look, a talk, a walk, an attitude, a lifestyle that will set us apart and elevate us.
    The monkey suit has been altered over time, but the basic struggle remains the same. Thousands of years ago, Hebrew men sought after the same status and respect that we desire today. Hebrew women may have too, but they had so little place in society, their wants and desires hardly mattered. In fact, a common prayer among Hebrew men went this way:
    “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has created me a human and not beast, a man and not a woman, an Israelite and not a gentile, free and not slave.”
    Galatians 3 responds to this prayer. To those who sought status based on being a man, a Jew, or free God has spoken a scandalous truth; there is no longer any male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free. Not for those who have clothed themselves with Christ. Those things that were separate have been brought together. Those who were lowly have been raised up. Those who were raised up have been laid low.
    Of course, we aren’t a society separated by slave or free or Jew or Gentile. As I said, our monkey suit has been altered; but we are still defined by our image. In a modern context, this passage might read “no rich or poor, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, American or Iraqi.” For those whose labels aren’t so definitive, it may simply be a matter of “cool or uncool, acceptable or unacceptable, churched or unchurched.”
    I don’t know how you define yourself, I don’t know what image or persona you have chosen to take on. You might be wrapped up in wearing the right clothes, driving the right car, going to the right school, and getting the right job. It might be economic status or geographic location. It might be skin color or gender. God says enough of that. God’s only concerned with one image. His image. The image he created us in. He is only concerned with one persona, and that is the person of Christ.
    Romans 12:2 states that we should “no longer be conformed to the likeness of this world.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 promises that we who are in Christ are “being transformed into the same image.” God’s call is not to be conformed, but transformed. It’s time to take off the monkey suit and clothe ourselves with Christ. As a people who are defined by the image they put on, God calls us to put on His. God can demand this because His acceptance is all that matters; His love is all that fulfills.
    The world will promise love if you will try this drug, drink this beer, drive this car and you can get this girl. But this house and the neighbors will envy. Wear this suit and the people will line up to shake your hand. The only problem is that, in the end, the world can’t deliver on its promise. The world will promise greatness and then turn its back. Only Jesus promises never to reject you as long as you follow him and put him on.
    So what happens when a person clothes themselves with Christ in the way that Paul talks about? What does that look like? I recently had an opportunity to work with a group of ministers and their youth groups at a camp in Virginia. One of the ministers working there was obviously not someone concerned with how he clothed himself every day. He sported a mustache that was popular in the 70’s, glasses that were chic in the 80’s, and the kind of salmon colored polo shirts that peaked somewhere in between. To complete the look, he was never without a cap that read in bold letters “WORLD’S GREATEST DAD!” And yet the teenagers he worked with, an age group that advertisers know to be notoriously obsessed with what is “cool”, followed him around like he was the Pied Piper. They laughed at his jokes, listened to his stories, asked him for advice, and generally enjoyed his company. Now what was it that had these teens defying social norms to be around this man?
    The answer is simple. This was a man who got up every morning and clothed himself with Christ. When teens spent time with him, Christ was who they saw; someone who cared for them, accepted them, and loved them unconditionally. This was a man who had turned in his monkey suit and put on the image of Christ. And these kids were lined up to shake his hand.
    The call of Christ is a challenge and an invitation. First of all, many of us have put on church, but never really put on Christ. Others of us see ourselves as a “good” person and don’t realize that this is just another kind of monkey suit. It isn’t wrong to be good, it isn’t bad to be “churched”, it just isn’t the way we should define ourselves. Others of us think we can wear the monkey suit at work and the Jesus suit at church; the Jesus suit at home and the monkey suit with friends. It's time to pick a suit and wear it. Let Christians be those who have put on Christ and not just people who have sewn the label onto another outfit. To do otherwise isn't just silly, it is sin.
    People living in a monkey suit look in the mirror and don’t like what they see. Jesus is offering another way, a better way. Christ invites us to take off the monkey suit and put him on in baptism, become a new person and begin a new life.

    By Blogger chrismith, at 7/12/2004 02:30:00 PM  

  • Greg,

    The upstairs men's class is doing Wild at Heart. I forget the room number, but it is across from.......the women's class -- 202, I think.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 7/13/2004 04:17:00 AM  

  • Chris,

    Your post was long, but well worth the read. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 7/13/2004 04:26:00 AM  

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