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053  Stand Up Straight Under Your Cross

I was browsing around YouTube and happened across Dr. Jordan Peterson's discussion of the first of his 12 Rules for Life, which is "Stand up straight with your shoulders back," or in some versions, "Stop being pathetic." In this interview, Peterson observed that the crouched, bent-over position of a defeated, insecure person protects that person's soft parts, but that the upright position of the confident makes their soft parts vulnerable--while at the same time announcing, "I can handle the vulnerability." He then mentioned the "Matthew principle," which is a quotation from Rabbi Jesus: "For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." (Matthew 13:12) It's a truth: confidence increases the likelihood of succeeding, while acting pathetic increases the likelihood of failing, in everything. Plus, whenever you do something confidently and succeed, it increases the likelihood that you'll succeed at the next thing, too.

And finally Peterson announced, "Isn't that the message of the Crucifixion? To accept the vulnerability of being?"

I was stunned and a little embarrassed. This secular psychologist did grasp the central message of the cross better than I do. Jesus announced it plainly: He did not have to die, He chose to. "Couldn't I ask my Father, and He'd send twelve legions of angels to rescue me?" (Matthew 26:53, paraphrased) He became vulnerable by choice, out of His strength. He allowed Himself to be murdered in the most horrible manner by evil men--to demonstrate the character of God, Who does not have to allow such things but chooses to do so, so that He can rescue us who are murdering Him.

By doing so, Jesus forever changed a world devoted to rewarding the strong into one where we value those most who do the most to protect the weak. The ancient world was a few, strong kings marshaling their strength to dominate the multitude of weaker persons in order to enslave them, and then to employ them in building monuments to their greatness. Jesus buried that world and replaced it with our world, in which each of our lives can have meaning--but we're encouraged to use that liberty to ennoble the worlds of others who have less than we do. "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." (Galatians 5:13)

Because, of course, we're not just talking about God making Himself vulnerable. You and I are to pick up our crosses every day as well. This means that sometimes we let bad people do things to us that we don't have to allow them to do, because God has made us able to handle the vulnerability.

So that's my challenge for today. Worship Him Who holds all power but Who changed the world by His vulnerability. Receive strength from Him--and use that strength to become vulnerable, in order to help those who don't have the strength or the wisdom to do what you're doing.

And while you're doing it, stand up straight and put your shoulders back. It feels good, and it's good for you. And remember, as you do, that you've just left your soft parts vulnerable for someone to attack you, just like Jesus up on the cross, arms open wide and vulnerable to the world.

How's it look from up there? Hang there a while in the company of Jesus, our Elder Brother, and I'll be back in a couple of weeks.

 

Phil Weingart

Oh, PS: in case you're interested, here's a link to the video.

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