Sometimes when I watch movies, especially James Bond ones, I listen out for when the title of the movie will be mentioned. (Obviously in my opinion Roger Moore always delivered his best of all the Bonds, that raised eyebrow just convinced me from the start.) I think that sometimes it is whilst writing the narrative or some dialogue in the narrative that the title for a book or a movie emerges, just as a significant theme in a song that is repeated can lend itself as the song title. In the same way I was engaging in a conversation when the phrase of this blog entry came to mind.
I said it to the person and it had a resonating effect on me. This dear friend had said some things around looking forward to spend more time with the family. I was thinking, however, that the reason why things have come to this point is because there’s always a competing force for the attention that means the family suffers.
I also thought that it’s not just this person who suffers from divided loyalties. To some extent there is an overriding interest that takes up the heart, even if the time is otherwise taken with other activities, the mind is just going over that issue again and again. It is so often the case that someone is physically present and to some degree engaging in the activity of the time, but it’s obvious that they are elsewhere either in spirit or mind. Their mind is taken up with their own thing of desire.
As ever Jesus exposes the issue slap bang in the middle of his famous teaching on the mount where he simply says,
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
That which captures the heart and takes up the attention has virtual mastery over us. It’s funny really, we run away from the sense of anyone owning us or telling us what to do. We make a big deal of being autonomous, independent, free-thinking individuals when in most cases, (come on it’s presumptuous and arrogant to say all in a blog like this when you’re not that brave yet) we’re actually not that autonomous, or independent or free-thinking. Sooner or later some master will take us under his wing – especially the enticing allure of money and all it can seemingly buy and what it can mean in the sight of others. We come under its wings and before you know it moods, thoughts, decisions, temperament, life activities and relationships are determined by what masters us.
Not only that, but it’s not as if there’s choice to be mastered or not. All this liberalism and free country jargon may keep us warm in our thoughts at night, but slavery has not been abolished, just either blatantly ignored in the so-called Third-World, or made to be far more sophisticated in the so-called First-World. Slavery and mastery is wrapped up with the whole human psyche and it’s then a case of discovering which mastery will give us the best chance of not being oppressed, compressed, distressed, depressed, repressed and even negatively possessed.
That sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it. I’m not going to make it any softer, though. Think of it this way, though. As a slave if your master is responsible for upkeep and takes that seriously to ensure that your working conditions are as conducive and constructive to your benefit as possible and you are just required to be obedient to instructions that are actually to your overall benefit, how is that a bad thing? If the Lord who has mastery over us instructs us … commands us to love each other and empowers and equips us to do that how is that a bad thing? If the Lord who has mastery over us instructs us … to find the truest sense of liberty in being like His Son by linking with Him and allowing Him to carry the bulk of the burden how is that a bad thing?
Obviously it’s a bad thing to us because we don’t appear to be in control, even if we’ve been deluding ourselves in thinking that the autonomous, independent, free-thinking position has improved our situation. It’s got to be a definition of madness to think that illusive and elusive living is somehow any better.
The divided loyalty continues though and in reality it’s not that divided at all, whenever something else other than that which is meant to be occupying the heart is there, then we’re always giving cheap second-hand service to everything else. The funny thing is, under the Lordship of the creator there’s more than enough time to look after the family. There’s more than enough time to be effective at work. There’s even enough time to pursue pastimes that help you in building relationships and the like. Indeed under this mastery all of those activities are effused with life and purpose possible because it’s rooted in acknowledging first and foremost the Lord who makes it all possible.
Until then, though, it’s the ongoing challenge of seeing where the heart is and asking this kind, forgiving and liberating Lord to help us find our hearts in Him.
For His Name's Sake