Tag Archives: self-image

Freeing Yourself from the Curse of the Redshirt, the Expendable Crewman

“Nobody wants to be the expendable crewman,” my friend Mark said over the phone the other day. For some strange reason we were talking about how in the original Star Trek, when Kirk, Bones, Spock, and some anonymous crew member in a red uniform beamed down to a planet filled with hostile aliens, the crewman in the redshirt always ended up dead, while Captain Kirk scores the sexy alien who looks vaguely like a Victoria Secret model, only with green skin.

I loved Star Trek.

To ensure the story had conflict someone had to die and it could’t be Kirk, Spock, Scotty, or Bones (unless it was a show featuring time warps where the deceased Kirk, Spock, Scotty, or Bones comes back by the end of the show, but that’s another story). Trekkies dubbed this guy “the redshirt” or “the expendable crewman.”

And no one wants to be that guy.

But many of us get up each morning, don our redshirts, and beam down to a hostile environment with a sinking suspicion we are indeed expendable. That’s why I don’t wear red much. I don’t want to be the next target.

Do you feel expendable?

But seriously. There is always someone who can do our jobs better, is better looking, is younger, or older, or smarter, nicer, funnier, taller, newer, or just all around better.

For example, when I first decided to go into church planting four years ago, after over twenty-five years in the pastorate, a younger pastor–an expert in church planting–advised me that, at my age, I should consider church redevelopment instead. Translated that means, “Old guys like you can only handle dying churches. Leave the real, hard work to us younger guys.” I wanted to punch him, but he was considerably younger and I didn’t want to hurt him.

He saw me as a redshirt, completely expendable. I’m glad I listened to a higher authority on what I can and can’t do.

Have you been told you’re the expendable crewman?

God, the higher authority, doesn’t see you that way. 

I find it ironic that the Being who needs no one else in order to exist does not view us as expendable while many of us who desperately need each other in order to survive treat each other as disposable.

Is that because we’ve been conditioned by a throw-away, newer is better culture? Probably. But we created that culture.

The deeper reason for this attitude might be that we believe if we treat others as redshirts on our crew then we must be the indispensable James T. Kirk–or his equivalent. Treating others as expendable makes us feel as though we are not. Work-a-holism boils down to this.

“I must . . . make . . . myself . . . indispensable,” we groan under the load while our children, spouses, friends, and sometimes God himself wait out by the trash dumpster.

But doesn’t this only make us more insecure?

Thus we’re constantly looking over our shoulders for our replacement, creating a vicious circle. We know he or she looms there because we were once someone’s replacement.

The true source of our security.

This is why knowing we were created and loved by an Indispensable God is so crucial to living healthy, spiritual lives. It gives us a true, unmovable foundation to base our lives on.

God does not need you or me in order for the world to keep spinning, for the world to be healed.

Better! He wants us to play a part.

God is not waiting for someone better to parent your children, sing your song, love your spouse, do your job, pray your prayer, write your book, right a wrong, weed your garden, laugh with your friend, be a part of your community, or dream your dream. God chooses to love you and out of that love chooses to use you.  God’s choice makes you non-expendable, not your false belief that you can live without others, nor your IQ, fast car, job, or lofty, faulty self-image. So take off that damn redshirt and get busy.

Eugene C. Scott is non-expendable in part because he can perform the “live long and prosper” sign without glue or masking tape. Please join the Living Spiritually community by following his blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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The Deepest Truth About You

by Michael J Klassen

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. Listening to the officer read me my Miranda Rights, my world began to spin. I was 16 years old and 750 miles from my home in Denver, Colorado.

“Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you?” the man asked me. His question jolted me back to this surreality.

“Yeah,” I muttered as I looked dejectedly at the ground.

That summer, my older sister and I worked for the company my dad owned. Most of our time was spent living in a motel in rural North Dakota. As our project came to a conclusion, my sister and I moved back home with much fanfare. Sipping from the cup of adulthood was exhilarating and satisfying. The pay was good, and Lori and I had gotten involved in a small church.

Never had I felt closer to God.

But before the summer ended, my dad needed me to venture out on one more business trip. This time, I accompanied another employee in his mid-20s.

We wrapped up our assignment early and decided to spend the evening at the Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City. Unfortunately, we arrived 15 minutes too late. The amusement park was still open but they were no longer selling tickets. Despite our pleading, the park refused to sell us two more tickets.

That’s when my colleague hatched a plan to sneak into the park. Tom successfully transgressed the gates, but when I tried, a security guard caught me. That’s when the officer read me my rights.

Oh, and did I mention the t-shirt I was wearing?

Heaven of Hell, Turn or Burn!

The front boasted a picture of Yosemite Sam (from the Bugs Bunny movies) beside the words: HEAVEN OR HELL, TURN OR BURN. With my hands handcuffed behind my back, the ever-growing crowd of onlookers witnessed a new low in hypocrisy.

Long story short, I was never so humiliated and never so ashamed to be considered a follower of Christ. After agreeing to avoid the amusement park for the next 30 days, the security officers surprisingly released me…into the custody of my coworker who had enjoyed the amusement park at my expense.

Driving away, I promised myself that I wouldn’t tell my parents what happened for the next 10 years—and I didn’t. This defining experience devastated my walk with God.

Last week, I described the second deepest truth about you and me. Despite our best efforts and intentions, we’re all messed up. All of us are trapped in bodies and souls that cannot help but sin. Theologians call this “total depravity.”

Fortunately, this isn’t necessarily the deepest truth about us. In other words, our sins need not define us. If you’ve given the controls of your life to Jesus, then a deeper truth remains.

The apostle Paul wrote,

“To [the saints] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ” (Colossians 1:27 italics added).

What is the mystery that Paul is extolling? Christ lives in you! The deepest part of you isn’t you, it isn’t your sin, it’s Jesus. Your value doesn’t come from your gifts, abilities, not even your sin. Your value comes from being created by God and having Christ live in you.

Elsewhere, Paul explains:

“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. ” (Romans 8:10–11).

This is good news! Not only are you NOT defined by your sin, but you aren’t limited by it, either. That’s why we can say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We always have hope for overcoming our addictions, ailments, and emotional distresses—always—if Christ lives in us.

Thirty years after my transgression, I’m still learning what it means to allow Jesus to define me. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life discovering what it means.

But for today, I have hope.

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The Deepest Truth About You

In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a character with a split personality plays a significant role in Frodo’s quest to dispose of the ring.

His name was Sméagol. Earlier in his life, he found the Ring while fishing with a relative. Its power and influence mesmerized him and drove him to kill his relative in order to have it. After gaining possession of it, he took advantage of the Ring’s powers to steal, spy, and antagonize his friends and relatives. But in the process, it changed him into an evil, selfish person named Gollum. At least part of him.

In the above scene, Sméagol and Gollum argue about their need for each other. It’s a moving scene because Sméagol discovers that he no longer needs his evil counterpart.

All of us wrestle with a Sméagol and Gollum that live within us. But which one is the deepest part of us?

Please join us as we discuss it in our daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Jeremiah 4:19-6:15
Colossians 1:18-2:7
Psalm 77:1-20
Proverbs 24:23-25

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Jeremiah 4:19-6:15. “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding.” (Jeremiah 4:22). I have two teenage daughters in my house. Sometimes I shake my head at their immaturity, their lack of understanding. That’s how God looks at us. He loves us, but compared to him, we have no understanding.

Reading the prophecies of Jeremiah, we see God’s broken heart over the waywardness of the people he so dearly loves.

Psalm 77:1-20. This psalm is the antidote for the “what have you done for me lately?” mentality in regard to our relationship with God. After questioning whether God still cares, Asaph writes, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago” (Psalm 77:11). Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past gives us assurance that he will be faithful in the future.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

One of the great themes of Colossians is the supremacy of Christ. In chapter one, Paul tells us that through Christ, all things were created for him and by him. He holds all things together and through him he reconciles all things to himself.

But the deepest, most important truth?

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Colossians 1:26-27

If you have given your life to Jesus, then Jesus lives in you. This is a reoccurring theme in Paul’s writings (Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 3:17).

But what does this mean to you and me?

All of us are born in sin. I don’t need to remind you of this fact because every day you and I mess up. As much as we try (and we should), we will never overcome this compulsion. Gollum follows us wherever we go.

But the deepest part of you isn’t even you, nor is it your sin. The deepest part of you is Jesus.

This is a good reminder, because we so easily define myself by our mistakes and transgressions (at least I do). Our sin no longer defines us. But also, in our truest selves, sin no longer has the power to control us. Like Sméagol, we no longer need Gollum. We can live like Jesus because the character of Jesus now resides in us!

That’s why Paul refers to Christ living in us as “the hope of glory.” We are never without hope because hope lives in us.

The deepest truth about you is that Jesus lives in you!

CONVERSATION STARTERS

What spoke to you in today’s reading?

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see?

How does knowing that Christ lives in you affect the way you see yourself? How does it affect the way you live? How does it affect the way you respond to people?

What does this truth tell you about God?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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