It’s been an experience going through Checkpoints the last three weeks. The inward focus has made me take a harder look at my relationship with Christ. Suffice it to say, some aspects of it have been found wanting.
I’ve felt like I have a strong Identity in Christ, but it could be stronger. Admittedly, my Integrity. has waned from time to time. I’ve known, but it was reiterated again, that having a strong sense of Community can help men, like myself, who struggle with the first two checkpoints.
Truthfully, I’m not sure how many men struggle with feelings of Isolation. What I do know is that we control it. If we separate ourselves from others, then it’s easier for sin to creep up on us. We can’t withstand an onslaught of negative forces if we try to combat them on our own. Even though He is the Son of God, Jesus had His Disciples, and they were His community. As men of God, it’s important for us to be around other likeminded men, who are striving to live for Christ. As Proverbs 27:17 states, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We can only sharpen each other, and ourselves, if we spend time with other men.
Conflict can impact community as well. When there is discord amongst people projects, plans, and progress all generally grind to a halt. Nothing gets accomplished because folks are harboring negative feelings toward one another. The feelings can sprout from anywhere, and each man involved has his own. But, whatever it is, the conflict must be resolved for the bonds to be reestablished. Even the Bible says (paraphrased) that “if one commits an offense against his brother, stop whatever is going on an rectify it.” The kingdom of God is about harmony, and if harmony doesn’t exist, then those who are preventing it need to do what’s necessary to make it happen.
What else affects the harmony amongst men? Would you believe Gossip? It sounds weird because not many people automatically think of men as gossipers. We can be. Has anybody ever told you something in private, but you shared it with another? Yup, that’s gossiping. Keeping private things private and not spreading lies is the best way to not be a gossiper. That and minding our own business.
In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to become an inadvertent gossiper though. Why is it you may ask. We’re more technologically connected than ever before. The advent of the internet, and social networking allows us to connect more easily. This can be both good and bad, but doing it too much can lead to what’s termed as Online Abuse. Be mindful of the connections both in real life and virtually, but we’re to never let our virtual ones replace the real ones. Jesus nurtured people outside His circle, but after God, His first priority was those closest to Him. Our lives should be the same way.
The same way we have to guard against isolating ourselves, we must watch for the wrong kind of community that may want us as part of it. Peer pressure is a part of this. Often when we hear the phrase peer pressure, it has negative connotations. The fact is it can be negative or positive. Being around Godly men, such as in a small group or men’s ministry, will exert positive peer pressure. Not only positive, but it can be encouraging as well. When we align ourselves with the right peers, doing so can make all the difference in our natural, and spiritual lives.
***Along with the Bible, Checkpoints gets to the heart of manhood. I’m seeing a difference in my life, and can only assume that other readers of the book are too. It’s still five more weeks to go, but I expect them to be as revealing, and better than the weeks prior.***