When The Brain Reigns, Bondage Begins

Jesus Christ set a window in the tiny dark dungeon of the ego in which we all languish, letting in a light, providing a vista, and offering a way of release from the servitude of the flesh and the fury of the will.
~Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen… For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
~ paul, The Least of The Apostles

Oh beloved, it is true. There are, in this world, manifold problems. And in looking at the problems, we want to proclaim that if other people would just behave a different way, then everything would be OK. However, the problem is not other people, and it is not even really us either.

Rather, the problem is about what part of us (and others) is going to be in charge. Nearly any behavior can be manifested in the short term by anyone. We can act a certain way. We can look like reasonable people who can and should be trusted. And we can speak words that make people think that we are on the right track.

The flesh is like that.

Beloved, there is a horrible part of us that will run if we let it. And the more we let it run; the more we actually reckon it to be in play, the more it will tend to take charge of our lives. And while every excuse the brain and nervous and hormonal systems make, seems to make sense – really just about all of it is nonsense.

All of this, though, is not easy to identify while we are in the middle of the process. The senses scream that they are the things that should be both obeyed and focused upon. And the more we look into the way we feel about things, the farther we fall into the grasp of the flesh, and occlude our perception of the truth of life.

The further we (and you – and this crazy world in which we live) we go into looking to our feelings, the less any other options seem to make any sense. The reason of a man is co-opted by the flesh. For reason has given itself over to rationalization. We begin to think in smaller and smaller chunks, until we are simply going with whatever bit of impulse is working itself up from the stem of our brain.

And once reason is gone, we are really in trouble. The higher things of a man that can bootstrap us (if we allow them) to see things truthful, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, righteous, admirable, or worthy of praise (or the Person who is all of this) seem completely out of style (and definitely out of reach).

We are trapped. We are ruled by the very things that we were (formerly) trying to run from. They try to present themselves as pretty and reasonable, but we know they are killing us, and the people around us – no matter how much we try to dress things up. Said more simply: we know the world is heading to hell, but we try to make it seem like heaven.

Can we see it? The problem is deep, but the fix is simple. We must look away from the thing that is drawing us down. It is impossible to fight gravity or flesh. They are both indomitable. Rather, the way to overcome both is to look to The Solution Who will draw us beyond or above their power.

Oh yes, the flesh will scream that, if we quit paying attention to it, that we will lose our freedom and that we will become enslaved to a dull and grey existence without the grey-matter pleasure center of the brain being pinged on a regular basis.

And it is true that we will become a slave, but now the slavery will be to Light and Life and Freedom and Love and all the other things that really, really, really do fill us up. As the singer once said, “you gotta serve Somebody…”

So, are you feeling like the slavery you (or this crazy world we inhabit) is making sense? Perhaps it is time to think that one through. Not all slavery is equal. One brings death. Choose wisely beloved.

There is an intimate bond between the sufferings of Christ and the conflict and suffering in each Christian life. The daily dying of the Christian is a prolongation of Christ’s own death. Paul writes in Romans 6:3, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Baptism is not merely a momentary dying; it inaugurates a lifelong state of death to the world, to the flesh and to sin. Our daily death to selfishness, dishonesty and degraded love is our personal participation in the fellowship of His sufferings.
~Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus

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