One of the first things we see on God’s heart as he moved toward humanity is this:
We were made for community.
How is it then that it so quickly disintegrated with Adam and Eve? How is it then that something so strategically needed for us as a people group added more alienation, conflict, destruction and war?
And how is it then that running in the background of this common thread is an all-pervasive deep sense of isolation, namely loneliness? Yet we were made for community.
Welcome to Office of Personhood.
Let’s look at some songs written in the lonely key of music.
Neil Sedaka sang in "Solitaire"
There was a man, a lonely man
Who lost his love, thru his indifference
A heart that cared that went unshared
Until it died within his silence...
Neil Diamond sang, “I Am”
"I am"... I cried "I am"... said I
And I am lost and I can't
Even say why
Leavin' me lonely still...
Unfortunately, but not surprising it can be worse in the church. Surrounded by people but not connecting with them or they with you is not anything new as honor flows toward giftings, skill sets and activities.
Loneliness is usually a companion of highly competent people and the solution embraced is to develop more skill and more competence.
The root problem is not more competence, the root problem is this:
Perhaps you are NOT in the offices you belong in.
There are four offices to consider:
The first is foundational if you want to avoid this plague of loneliness. This sequence flows as we are established in that office. Don't be confused by being able to be in the title of any one of these offices. It is not the same thing.
Let’s look at the life of Leah (Genesis 29)
Leah is an example of someone although married to Jacob was not even remotely in the office of wife and she knew it. Jacob was fully in the office of husband with his wife, Rachel. Leah was never allowed to enter into the office of personhood. Let’s explore why.
WHEN SOMEONE IS TREATED AS A COMMODITY, THEY CANNOT ENTER INTO THE OFFICE OF PERSONHOOD
⦁ Due to her father’s worldview, Leah became a commodity, not a person. Seven years of wages treated her as an object, exchanged for another asset.
⦁ Tragically this was assumed as normal and natural because ‘ it is all she knew’.
⦁ She then attempted to achieve her personhood by then commoditizing her sons as was modelled for her by her father. She ached for what she could not have, to be more than a sexual object and passed the curse of commoditization down to them.
COMMODITIES vs PERSONHOOD
⦁ Commodities cannot have intimacy. You can love things like books, TV, music, travel, but this is not the same as the love for a person.
⦁ Highly competent people will be loved for their character, skill set, value in the community yet still be short of intimacy, because we can love commodities but not have intimacy.
This is the tragedy of having been a commodity early on instead of being in the office of personhood.
Loneliness is the consequence of being a commodity.
AREAS OF COMMODITIZATION
⦁ Our children can be invested in for what they are good at including sports, music, education, physical beauty.
⦁ The message to them then becomes, ‘you bring honor to this family because of __.’
⦁ Spiritual leaders need children to make them look good. At best, not to make them look bad. They, in turn, become celebrated for their voice, skill, or gifting.
⦁ Cults attract willing people to commoditize by establishing a clear set of behaviour to build their brand.
⦁ Theology rewards those with the biggest vision, fastest builders or those with mystical encounters with God. It encourages being commoditized in your relationship with God when what he wants is an intimate relationship with us.
As our children get older we shift once again to understand who they are as children and direct their design in the right way because so much of their design may clash with the culture.
A great tool is to ask some pointed questions:
What did you like about ___? the party, the field trip, our family dinner..
As we take the time to draw out of them the sweet spot of their pleasure, it tends to make it portable. When we can language something we often find it can be expressed in different contexts which we can then often be repeated.This languaging of design is a big deal. When no one does, it leaves the door open to then curse an area of design because it is mistaken for culturally unacceptable behavior.
If you can change one thing about your room, the bible, the world, your class..what would it be?
When we discover areas of frustration, we can then reason back to their design. The power of language can redirect you into the right channel which makes the difference between being in the office of personhood or being taken out.
Who would we be today if these areas were languaged, celebrated, honored?
We have a rare opportunity to partner with them to enjoy their joy and celebrating it with them.
Our western market place is primarily about commoditization. The corporate culture is defined by competence, destroying many people along the way. With a passion toward product as you work harder, better, faster with no question about relationship, team work or connection, perhaps how your personhood fits into the bigger picture.
THE QUESTION THEN IS:
Who are you when you are not a commodity? When your commoditization abruptly ends and you cease being a commodity? Think of a soldier, a valuable commodity in the war, abruptly ending upon returning home. Or the athlete or a model?
Can you go back into life and be a person when you have been a high achiever or did you become a commodity along the way?
Tragically, what Leah did in perpetuating the problem is not limited to Leah.
An area of high profile commoditization today is sexual abuse. When a child is sexually exploited and treated as a commodity she will in time begin treating herself as a commodity. Because she has not been placed in the office of personhood or in the office of daughter, now on her way to womanhood she will see herself as a body to be desired and not a person.
Fortunately, even if this may be all you know, THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS.
It is possible to enter into the office of personhood as a child properly or to re-enter that office as an adult even though you have been savagely commoditized.
Having listened to this first CD, The Problem, what are your thoughts and emotions that bubble up? How do you relate to what is being described?
Who are you when you are not a commodity? This is certainly a revealing question. From a high achiever to an empty nester has our God given role reduced us to a commodity?
Can you give an example of the culture defining who you are by your assets?
I savored the story of Esther. The epiphany of commoditization but keeping her personhood in tact. Do you have a similar story?
Leave a blessing, encourage one another.
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