“Don’t suppose that I have come to bring peace to the Land. It is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword!Matthew 10:34
Most people fit in. They do what they are expected to do, and believe what they are expected to believe or even told to believe. This is especially true for systems that proclaim to have the one and only truth. Christianity is such a system in most of its implementations today.
Obviously, this is a good way to attain peace. Fitting in means to conform to the social norms, so there is no need for correction and even harsher consequences.
Most people think that they fit in based on a conscious decision. But frankly, most just do for two reasons:
- They follow their internal instincts, desires, drives, and love for peace.
- They do it because of external peer pressure.
Most of these people have a notion of what it means to be an individual. This is fairly new in humanity and came about during the Reformation roughly. Huss, Wycliff, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin et al. gave birth to this new complexity of consciousness, while before that, most people just saw themselves as part of a tribe, society, or nation.
In the traditional worldview, the social embedding without an urge for individuality still is the condition to attain and strive for. But since the awakening of the individual, the world cannot go back. The individual is here to stay, even if it has to be refined and re-adopt social integration and norms on a higher level. Thus post-modernity.
Jesus came not to bring peace, but the sword. If Jesus talks about peace, he is not talking about the state of “no war”. He is usually talking about inner peace first, which can and will, if lacking, result in inner and soon external struggles, destroying at the end even external peace and lead to war.
With the notion of the individual and the need for esteem, the first reason for change or reason to conform – instincts and drives – became stronger, but did not overcome or eliminate the second one – peer pressure.
But a third reason started to emerge, and it became even stronger in post-modernity: individual growth, self-actualisation, and autonomy.
This third drive starts to develop a tension between the personal ideal self – what and how I wish to be – and the actual self lived based on mainly external expectations. I subsume the first two drives as not originating from the will and personality of the person and call this external.
This tension can lead to internal problems. I will no longer feel at home in my group of former unconscious choice. This can lead to more or less mild psychological problems, unease, depression, angst, anxiety, because it will start an internal fight. The first two drives together with comfort, imprinting, and habit will fight the thoughts the third drive is imposing.
Sometimes, small adjustments or just the decision to go back and let go of those crazy thoughts, or the mere power of the first two drives will force the person to go back and fit in.
But if one does not give in to the ways they are accustomed to, they start to develop a framework of their own with ideas and a worldview disparate from group conventions. Now, these two worldviews start to fight each other – a much bigger fight than singular ideas. If now they have the power to adopt the new worldview, choosing from their own individuality, there is no way back. If not, the worldview will crumble, some ideas will survive for a while, but eventually the person will give in and join the crowd again.
But when successful, the person is at a stage where he or she is able to construct their worldview to a full paradigm intentionally, taking into account mostly the third drive. What just happened before because of the emergence of a new drive, is now self-directed.
And finally, the person can settle at a new level, a new complexity of consciousness. Decisions now are not based on instincts nor peer pressure, but conscious thoughts, emotions, and choices of will.
At this point, inner peace is restored. One can rest in this new found freedom and paradigm. But outer peace is often missing. People will understand the person on the journey less and less, and the old group will react hurt and hurtful.
Very few people will reach this new level, most will go back after one or two courageous steps, some will get to the forth level, but not undertake the work to work out the new worldview fully.
But there is hope.
It is Christ that brings about this process. That means, there is meaning and a purpose to all of this.
We can read about this purpose in Romans 8. Paul tells us that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if we suffer with him to be glorified with him. I believe that this process is the suffering or at least part of it. We usually equate the suffering with the persecution, but the persecution is but the result of the suffering of taking on a new paradigm.
In Romans 8, we start as God’s children, but all creation groans for the emergence of the mature sons of God.
Maturing is nothing else than the result of the third drive executed in a positive manner.
Most people will undergo part of this maturing process up to the level that their chosen surroundings have matured to and are teaching them and expecting from them.
Thus, a family oriented person with the primary need for security, but with a very small epistemological horizon, will within a Christian church grow through adventure into social order, hierarchy and obedience. Of course, this will include a form of the process we are talking about: leaving the old worldview and the tribe, including possible persecution by the family or tribe. But there is a community awaiting and a worldview fully constructed to meet and greet you. That means, the new community expects the outcome (drive 2), and the personal desires and instincts are towards that growth (drive 1).
The same is true if somebody starts to adopt a scientific worldview: leaving tradition and church and becoming an atheist will provide its share of persecution, but again, there is a whole modern society awaiting. And again for the shift from modernity to post-modernity.
But I dare say that a healthy path from an order and hierarchy based dualistic community with social norms and one absolute truth as most churches are today onwards in the will of God is more of an adventure and harder to follow. There is hardly anybody waiting at the other end but God, and he does not look at all like the God you were worshipping for such a long time.
This is only possible with the third drive.
But this is not enough. Will the third drive be strong enough to sustain change?
In chaos theory, functions behave unpredictably with small changes of starting parameters. Some functions react heavily on even small changes.
There are people that are overexcitable. Their reaction to circumstances are much stronger than most. Some are emotionally overexcitable, forming strong attachments. Some have psychomotor, sensual or imagination overexcitabilities. Personally, I have intellectual ones: relatively small intellectual triggers have my brain run in overload.
Such people will have more dedication to the process, as the reactions triggered within them light a firework and are hard to suppress.
Still, it is a major undertaking to grow from a traditional image of God – the punishing or benevolent man on the thrown – into a modern – Christ within -, a post-modern one – the compassionate God of grace, a friend – to an integral view – the three faces of God – and finally, for the time being, a holonic, whole God – the body of Christ in unity with everything, not just everybody or everybody saved. What a struggle. What an undertaking, What an adventure. Walking multiple times through the process of positive personal disintegration, growing and maturing.
The sword will cut marrow from marrow and bone from bone. The word – Jesus Christ – will guide us through this process of disintegration, destructing the things unhealthy, and integrating, constructing the mature and healthy.
I have called you to tear down and build up. Not others. Yourself.