Concave or convex? Curved inward or curved outward? This question and the answer can change the course of your life. As we look at scripture, little nuances appear that we gloss over and continue to read. We have heard the accounts of scripture but the impact of the text in many ways has been minimal. I do hate to say these words, but the fact remains that we are more concaved than we realize.
The other day I received a phone call and upon hearing the news of the death of a loved one, my heart sank. It was not the initial thought that worried me or even troubled me. It was a thought that came later. The thought of “I wonder what I was left in the will.” Okay, judge me. I deserve it. How uncaring, self-centered, and selfish and to boot a minister!
Now, take a moment and think about your life. Are you bent inward on yourself in your thinking? Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden and upon hearing the approach of God, realized their nakedness. Not the nakedness of one another, but their own nakedness. “Together they sewed leaves to cloth themselves.” Now, Adam sewed his clothes and Eve put together a nice-looking bark and vine skirt, with a Catalpa leaf top, the ensemble was dazzling. The point is they made coverings for themselves. (Concave)
Throughout scripture we find people thinking of themselves first. How many times did Abram pass Sarai off as his sister? Wives, how many times would you let your husband do that? Abram was out to save his own skin at the potential expense of his wife. (Concave)
Jonah, couldn’t get over the fact that God would save the people of Nineveh and complained until God sent a worm to cut down the vine that God had grown to provide shade for Jonah. (Concave)
Saul was so bent on getting rid of his son-in-law, David that he pursued him for years to kill him because he heard that he had been anointed to be King by Samuel. Convexly, Jonathan, did everything he could to save his brother-in-law from the tyranny of his father Saul. Same account in scripture and two different focuses in their approach to life. Saul for himself and Jonathan for his best friend.
Scripture tells us that our natural state is to be bent towards sinning. The fact is that everyone is bent inward – bent in upon ourselves. Our perception, vision, and outlook go out from us to a focal point that reflects back inward to ourselves. In our society today we call it self-centeredness and we have cleaned this term up and made it pretty with the fashion of today, calling it survival, oh, and preservation. The fact is that we have made ourselves the center of the universe. You know what people say, “They think the world revolves around them!” (Concave.)
The Disciples in Mark Chapter 9 are going from one location to another, following the healing of a youth from a demon. On the road, Jesus is talking about his death in Jerusalem and how he will be betrayed, but the disciples are caught up in an argument among themselves. Later as they get to Capernaum, Jesus asks them what they were arguing about on the road. They became quiet because they knew they had been arguing about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom. Really, the disciples were more focused on who was first than learning from Jesus. (Concave)
So how do we fix this inward-bent focus that all of us face?
The answer is doing the very thing that Jesus said. The solution to the Ten Commandments! Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. You see when you straighten up and face God you can love God. When you drop the weight of the world and stand up straight and love God you can see your neighbor to love them. The problem is that we need to stand up, straighten up and if possible stretch our arms above our heads and lean back! We need to become convex in our posture, our mindset, and our focus. We need to stop leaning in on our own understandings and instead, lean back, open ourselves up, and become able to welcome God’s desires into our lives. I know, it’s crazy. Moving from bent-inward and being concave to bent-outward and being convex is a heck of a shift. It shifts our sight, our openness, our potential, and our future. It is so much easier to love your neighbor as yourself when you stand up, straighten up, and face them.
So what are you waiting for? We are told to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith. The last time I checked, Jesus was not in the grave and causing me to look down and be concaved, but rose high in the air and caused me to look up and be convex! Try it and see what God can do for you!
The writer is the pastor of Immanuel Church of Kettlersville, Ohio.