SEPTEMBER 2012 - TYRANNY! AN UGLY WORD
There are many forms of tyranny in the world. Some are political. Some are military. Other tyrannies are much more subtle. They are abstracts of ideas that take on undue and overstated authority. In many ways, those tyrannies are the worst.
People often take grief and suffering from a tyrant for a period of time, and then, when things get so bad that fearing the tyrant is no longer a deterrent, the tyrant is tossed from his seat of power.
However, throwing off the tyranny of unhealthy and unspiritual ideas and circumstances of life is often much harder. We unwittingly allow ourselves to be sucked in by the gentle seduction of the tyrannies that threaten our spiritual well-being.
Time is one of those tyrants. We all have an equal amount of time in a day, but the Time Tyrants try to strip us of any control of it. Fifty percent of workers commonly skip lunch to complete their workload. Fifty-two percent of workers have had to work more than 12 hours a day to get their work done. Forty percent of women who work outside the home say stress at work has caused them to eat chocolate!
Only thirty-two percent of kids age 9-14 say they spend a lot of time with their parents. So where is the parenting? Sixty-three percent of the same kids said if granted one wish to change something about their parents’ jobs, they would want their parents to have a job that gave them more time to do fun things together as a family.
When people allow Time Tyrants to take control, the results aren’t pretty. In fact, people who abdicate control of their lives to “whatever” are destined to find it difficult, if not impossible, to yield their lives to God. How do you give him something you do not control?
The tyranny of having too many choices can paralyze a person. Years ago, a few people from behind the iron curtain had rare opportunities to visit American supermarkets. Usually, a person would stand and look at the shelves full of options with a “deer in the headlights” look on their faces. In their country, if you saw it on the shelf, you bought it. Usually there was one option at the same price everywhere and it may not have been available anywhere else. No options. No comparing.
Did you know that a customer facing the options of ordering an espresso at an average Starbucks coffee shop is faced with 97,920 options? Barry Schwartz wrote in The Paradox of Choice, “When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable . . . But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize.”
In churches, the spirit of tyranny sometimes raises its ugly head and Satan laughs a hearty laugh of delight. Those with personal agendas, sometimes politically inspired, seek to impose their will on others with no regard for what the Holy Spirit wants, or for what God has said. Opinions are made into false doctrines and forced on other Christians as tests of fellowship. That kind of tyranny is of the worst kind.
So how do we respond to all the tyranny trying to take over our lives?
1. Recognize who or what is in control—Christ calls his people to live purposefully. To do that a person needs to have clarity about what it is that controls their life. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9) If we take that step, taking up the cross daily, we establish who is in control, and we can make decisions and discernments based on our Lord’s desire for us and for his church.
2. Determine to structure life to reflect godly virtues and truth—It may be difficult, but it is essential to take a stand and build your life around the good things; being good parents, using time wisely, not allowing others to dictate how you will live, and more. The most important stand is to live the whole of your life to reflect God’s glory.
3. Ask God daily to help you make decisions he would be proud of you for making-—Pray for help. Pray for courage to surrender your life to God, not to the world. Pray for guidance and example from others to help you set a godly life course and to follow it, above all other options.
4. Stand up and speak out—Look for opportunities to explain to others what it means to toss the tyranny and take up the cross daily. (Colossians 2)
God bless you in your freedom in Christ!