Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mindlessness

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Foolishness brings joy to one without sense, but a man with understanding walks a straight path. Prov 15:21 (HCSB)

There are many forms of Mindlessness. I have been able to identify a handful. They are escapism, simple mindlessness, Egoism, busyness, dividedness/double mindedness, and unspiritual. These all have there unique qualities, but they share one thing in common. They lack authenticity, genuineness, integrity, and serve to distract people from being aware of their own condition, condition of others, God, and the world around them.

Escapism is the failure to be connected to life by devoting oneself to activities that allow for distraction. The most common activities that come to mind are entertainment, consumerism, alcohol, and drugs. These activities allow a person for a time to escape into a life that is not real to avoid some sort of pain or suffering they are having in their own life.

Simple mindlessness is rooted in being lazy and/or failing to think for oneself. It is easy to be resigned to being told what to do. If I am merely following then I do not have to be personally responsible for the outcome. Becoming aware means that I may have to give up some of my preconceived ideas about myself and the world around me. Awareness may force me into making a decision for my life. Awareness may command action that I am not yet ready to take. It is far easier (but less authentic) to live life by laws and rules than to be moved by the Spirit.

Busyness is a plight of our time. We have all filled our lives with things to do and have squeezed out the one thing that is needed (connection with God). It has the appearance of being productive and doing something of value. It even can be wrapped up in Christian works. However, busyness is mindlessness put into action. I think of Mary and Martha when Jesus came to visit them. Martha was distracted by her busyness while Mary sat at the feet of our Lord listening to His word. To Martha, Mary was being lazy and uncooperative. However, Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 (NASB) Busyness is often based in pride or self-indulgence. It is dangerous because we often celebrate accomplishments. However in the area of Spirit life works are destructive if they are done in the flesh which is works based religion. It is not motivated out of purity of heart, but out of need to do good or impress others.

There are times when self-glorification is the primary objective. Egoism is type of busyness, but it much more focused on the self. It is unmindful because the person seeking self glorification has little awareness of others or what is happening around them. In fact the main focus in either on what they can personally benefit from or what makes them look the best. Some people might observe that this type of person is "self-absorbed." Jesus identified many of the Pharisees as this type of person. They honored God with words, but really followed their own way.

Dividedness or double mindedness is a barrier to mindfulness. This can be doubting while proclaiming faith, sinning while claiming righteousness, battling of the soul (desiring to do right) and the flesh, lack of integration of the personality (role strain), anxiousness, and being "half-there." Romans 7:14-24 is a good description of this state. The conclusion of double mindedness is, "What a wretched man I am!" It leads one in to feelings of desperation. The dominant feeling is anxiety and insecurity.

The last barrier to Christian Mindfulness is being "unspiritual." There are two ways that a Christian can fall into being unspiritual: quenching and grieving. Quenching the Spirit occurs when we have awareness of the Spirit of God, but then do not act accordingly. In other words God gives clear direction and you don't do it. Grieving the Spirit occurs when we act not according to our awareness of the the Spirit, but according to the desires of our flesh. Stated another way we do something that God clearly does not want us to do.

Mindlessness is overcome by mindfulness. Moment by Moment awareness of God, others, your surroundings, in relation to self moves a person from acting carelessly as in mindlessness to acting authentically according to the Spirit of God. We can all strive to increase our mindfulness of God.