There is an unsettling phrase that reads, “Civilization is never more than nine meals away from anarchy.” The Romans manifested the truth of that statement by subtly bribing a dominated culture with the basics of life to gain control and force people to play by the rules. The Romans also realized if they failed to provide the basic needs of a culture that anarchy would be soon be unleashed in the streets.
What does it take to control you? What if tomorrow the illusionary bubble of abundance we live within popped? What if the trucks no longer supplied your store with food? What if your local utility stopped providing energy to heat your home and light your darkness? What if the last of your nine meals were finally eaten? Have you had a talk with that person, the undiscovered you, who is only met once the provisions of life are gone and despair sets in? Discovering your point of control and giving it to God is where true freedom is discovered. If you cannot be owned you cannot be controlled.
For the last several decades some in the Church have used a term, “a Spirit-controlled life.” I never liked that phrase because I know it is not true. God doesn’t control people or violate their will. A free will is what makes our worship pure and God will do nothing to manipulate the beauty of that response. We are the ones who choose how we will respond to the negative stimuli in our lives. The Spirit doesn’t do the responding – we do. The Spirit empowers us to respond in a way that says no to the negative invitation a fearful stimulus offers.
I said all of this to invite you to an unimaginable place that exists just beyond the nine-meal threshold in your life. That threshold doesn’t have to be food. It can be an empty bank account or a marriage drained of love. It is the end of anything, where a blank slate of nothingness is rudely thrust upon you. This is where you will discover how you will respond to real emptiness.
Today, discipline your life in this time of plenty so that someday you will be able to respond in faith if a time of want comes. In that moment you will have been trained and disciplined to call on the Spirit to help you respond to a crisis with words and actions that will feed your soul and help others see that God is their only real hope.