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Category Archives: bible

Codependence at the Movies

I was sitting in a movie theater last night watching the latest Brad Pitt movie, Moneyball. (Excellent baseball move, by the way!) Hubby Don and I had gotten there early and the theater was half empty. I thought I would get away with my purse and our jackets piled up in the empty seat next to me. But then just before the movie started, a lady squeezed past us, plunked down on the other side of our loaded-up chair, and asked if the seat were saved. Sigh. You know how that goes.

Normally I don’t pay attention to what the people around me say, but because of all the shuffling just as the movie was starting, I heard the lady say to her robust male companion, now seated right next to me, “Is this seat all right?” He murmured that it was. Pause. Pause. “Are you sure it’s all right?”

Oh no. I don’t know what their story is, but the self-abasing self-doubt, the tentative questioning, as if she were a blank space next to him, instead of a fellow human being perfectly capable of having her own opinion about where they sat . . . she was a People Pleaser.

The reason this sounded so familiar is that I have worked hard for years, as a mature follower of Christ, to move away from the shackles of that kind of thinking. People pleasers think we are loving, giving, and quite possibly the best Christian you can be. We are deluded.

The man sounded perfectly nice. He didn’t demand anything, he didn’t let her stew about whether she had pleased him. These urges to gain his approval were coming from inside her, not from his demanding behavior. I sensed they were in the early, polite stages of a relationship. But if they remain together a long time, her continual urges to check in with him like that will either push him to start considering himself to be above her (if he is prone to that sort of sinful pride), or he will become uncomfortable with her consistently childlike behavior.

What is her best option? Grow up. Grow up!

Paul tells us via the Colossians:

And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking,

and not holding fast to the head, [that’s Christ] from whom the whole body, [that’s us] nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.

We need to grow up.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.

These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value, serving only to indulge the flesh. Colossians 2:13-23

If you are getting the impression, from the scripture I have chosen, that I am not in favor of such fawning, codependent behavior, you are right. As followers of Christ, we are taught in many different ways to choose a better, more grownup path.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called . . .

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints . . .

That’s you and me, if we are believers.

for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.

Don’t let anyone, not even the voices inside your head from the past, talk you out of this maturity in Christ!

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. Ephesians 4:1,11-16.

As we who are more comfortable serving learn to grow in maturity (and backbone!) and in having an opinion, we allow opportunity for others to grow in learning to love and to serve. All of these are what we see in Christ and learn from His example.

May we grow together in Him!


A page from my journal

This is Psalm 62 in Greek & English. (The Greek is from the Septuagint.) I doodled it in my art journal, and it was the inspiration for my latest article for Sisters in Christ Jesus posted below.

Submission is Like Kissing

Here is my latest article from the Sisters in Christ Jesus web site:

Some things are meant to be shared. Have you ever waved at someone who didn’t wave back? Your hand hovers awkwardly, then you put it down with a little feeling of emptiness. “He probably didn’t see me . . .”

Kissing is like that. It’s a beautiful thing when it’s mutual, an awful thing if it’s not. If the other person limply allows it but doesn’t return it, you feel foolish. If it’s forced on you unwillingly, it’s an affront or even assault. Remember the kiss of death by the Godfather? A brotherly kiss turns to murder. Or Judas kissing Jesus. Not mutual, not beautiful.

Submission, as a Christian virtue, is better two by two as well. Paul urges the Ephesians in Chapter 5, Verse 21 to be “submitting yourselves to one another.” Missionary and Theologian Bruce C.E. Fleming explains that Paul carefully uses a reflexive verb here, adding a reciprocal pronoun to spell out his meaning clearly in this verse. He then goes on to describe what that looks like for Christian wives, husbands, parents, children, and so on.

The Greek word for submission is a reflexive, modified tense of a verb that is very strong in its active tense. The Septuagint, the Greek Bible quoted by Jesus, uses this word in the Old Testament for ideas such as pledging allegiance to kings and subduing one’s enemy. In fact, God thunders to Israel through Jeremiah about slavery using this word: “But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.” Jeremiah 34:16

Fortunately for us, God uses this word in a gentler way towards us, his beloved, in Psalm 62. “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.” Here again the word is in the reflexive tense, and like Ephesians, the context is of hope, love, provision and salvation.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves,” Philippians 2:3. When done mutually, submission is a beautiful thing. Let no one experience the humiliation of having submission unreturned by their loved ones, especially beloved brothers or sisters in Christ.

“Greet one another with a holy kiss,” Romans 16:16.

© Copyright 2007 Becky Virta