I was able to have a few moments of reflection yesterday evening. I’ve thought about my own faith journey; I’ve thought about what I am becoming and where I am going. I find it better to look in hindsight for evaluation; we seem to never be satisfied in the moment, nor does the present seem to be able to be measured comprehensively. The theme that continues to emerge in my searching is renewed dedication for growth and maturity. I think that this is something all desire.
Within each of our lives, there are significant challenges that continue to surface. We all have familiar opponents and foes. These areas frustrate and wear us down, convincing us that we’ll never be whole and at peace.
I’ve decided to try a new tactic with my “familiar opponents,” to do the opposite of what I would normally do. If situations normally lead me to become angry, I’ll seek peace, instead. If a situation causes me to become afraid and paranoid, I’ll seek to be optimistic and hopeful. If a person irritates and bothers me, I’ll choose to bless the person and pray for their advancement.
Perhaps this is what Paul is getting at in his discourse on missional faithfulness in 1 Cor 9. Paul’s general concern is being aware of the other, sharing in their context in order to “win as many as possible.” He provides a metaphor of a boxer or an athlete who trains in order to win a prize. He alludes to this process of conforming to the needs of the other as to “strike a blow to my body and make it my slave.” (v.27)
Another way to envision it, a way that is helpful to me, is to consider an old Seinfeld episode when George does the opposite of what he’d normally do, in the hopes of having a different outcome. Sounds logical, right? I think that if we want to expect change, we really need to make a change, and perhaps the start of that process is considering an alternative to our embedded pathologies.
So, my mantra for the next season is “do the opposite.” We’ll see how it goes.