"Every culture that exists is in danger of having a horrible addiction to itself." - Don McLaughlin
"The whole world becomes a slave to its own activity, ... if you want to be truly free, perform all actions as worship." -- Bhagavad Gita
"Life at the edge of death - the greatest life there is." - Jim Spivey
I eat peanut butter and cheese sandwiches sometimes. Weird, most people tell me, but these are two of my favorite treats and combining them works for me. I have no expectation (or need) for it to work for others.
That sort of comes to mind when I look at the above three quotes. They don't appear to perfectly mix, but it's working for me today. Let me explain...
When I pull back and look at my beloved life's work, it seems that I have made it my business to be a "culture-changer". And I get to work with lots and lots of cultures. The easiest one to point to in my life is the church culture I work in the midst of. Put me at any church in the world and I will find myself looking at it, listening to it, immersing myself in it...and then changing it. And I work to change it based on the distance that I perceive between it and the person of Jesus Christ.
I do the same thing with individuals (including, at the top of the list, myself). Put me in any relationship with any person in the world and I will find myself looking at them, listening to them, immersing myself in their life story...and then changing their personal little culture. I guess there is always a danger that I could come across judgmental, unapproving, unaccepting, and arrogant...but that is not how I feel (with little flair ups here and there when my ego feels threatened)...and for the most part I'm unafraid of that as long as I am confident that I am in love with the other person, and out unabashedly for their good, and willing to do anything to help them have it.
I do the same thing in any culture I choose to be involved in...and the challenge of my life is to constantly do it in my own little family. It is my hardest work, my greatest challenge, my training ground, my litmus test, and the most intense privilege and responsibility that I will have (I'm an intensity junkie, so I mean that positively). I am committed to doing this work in and with every day of my life. I'm like Babe Ruth in this area, striking out way more than I hit home runs, with very few accidental base hits in between because of my "all or nothing" attitude. And that is part of my own personal culture that I have been trying to change for years now...with some headway ("base hits"), thanks to the Power that lives within me and my surrender to it.
Be it my own personal culture, someone else's own personal culture, my church family's culture, my personal family's culture, or any other culture in the world...I love changing it and find it impossible for me to do anything else, even when I try. And, yes, all of this has everything to do with the first quote...I'm addicted to the culture of getting cultures unaddicted to themselves (And you thought peanut butter and cheese sandwiches was weird!).
I have found healing for culture's addiction to itself in the truth found in the second quote...performing all actions as worship.
Once someone learns how to really and practically start implanting, "I will do ___________ as an act of worship to God" into their life, their life's culture changes instantly, and in the most healthy, freedom producing way.
Which leads to the last quote...cultures change only by dying, being replaced with new ones. So, to avoid addiction, and caring more for keeping things "how they are" and always be running towards the perfect way of life, which is Christ's way of life, I must always live life at the edge of death. And any family, church, society, political system, or planet that wants to produce life must also constantly and willingly live life at the edge of death if it wants to produce life to the full.
Funny that it is around death that I find my work as a "culture changer" most easily done. I performed a funeral last week, once again intentionally connecting myself to the pain that this family was experiencing. And once there, I did the only thing that I seem to know how to do...I immersed myself in their culture, listened to it, watched it...and then worked to change it. Interesting to me is the life that physical death seems to invite is all those touched by it. Physical death forcibly changes cultures... and since death (of all different kinds) is inevitable, it is most convenient for us that it is also the best possible means to life.
And so I hope you volunteer for it every day (rather than waiting for it to forcibly change you)...looking anxiously for what part of your life's "culture" that you are addicted to, the part that needs to die today...so that it can be replaced with a newer, truer, better one.