2024 February – From Control to Connection Through the Spirit

Many of you know that I am a computer geek. From time to time I need to clean up my files and folders and reorganize my desktop to be able to find what I’m looking for. I have been doing that this week. This is what  I discovered: Last year (2023) at church, we studied some amazing lessons, Receptivity + Connectivity = Blessing, with Ephesians 3:10-11 as our text study. This is the ironic part: In 2009, I wrote the following article for one of my Bible studies. Sometimes it helps to clean up my files.

From Control to Connection Through the Spirit

For thousands of years, humanity’s relationship with horses was one of control.  Horses had to be “broken” before they could be ridden.  You had to “show them who’s boss.”  Beatings were a common part of the process, which might take days or weeks.  In the Robert Redford movie, The Horse Whisperer, the man championed by the movie was shown to revolutionize this process.  The real life horse whisperer is Monty Roberts.

“It all dates from those summers alone in the high desert, me lying on my belly and watching wild horses with my binoculars for hours at a time. Straining to see in the moonlight, striving to fathom mustang ways, I knew instinctively I had chanced upon something important but could not know that it would shape my life. In 1948 I was a boy of thirteen learning the language of horses. . . .”  (Monty Roberts in The Man Who Listens to Horses.)

Even as a child in the horse world, Monty Roberts was uncomfortable with the conventional method of breaking, or training, a horse. He competed in rodeos for 22 years, all the while searching for a better way. Eventually, he learned it from the horses themselves. By watching wild mustangs, Roberts was able to identify some of their body language and apply it himself.  His mission: to get the wild horse to accept a saddle and rider within the space of a few days–without force. Of course, he is successful. But knowing the outcome doesn’t diminish the exhilaration of watching the dance between wild animal and gentle conqueror. Roberts used some of the same principles in raising his 3 children and more than 40 foster children and now teaches his method to corporate management groups. (Excerpt from a synopsis of The Man Who Listens to Horses by Kimberly Heinrichs, as reviewed on Amazon.com.)

Attempts to control, for the most part, have not only been between humans and animals.  It has been and continues to be an integral part of our society among humans.  Rich have tried to control poor; men have tried to control women; cultures have tried to control other cultures, which have ended in wars and continuing dissention.

It was like that when James, (probably the brother of Jesus) wrote to a situation that included a typical dissention.  In one paragraph James addresses the haughty, privileged people of wealth, and in the next paragraph he turns to poor people undergoing severe trials. (Note the shift between 5:1 and 5:7.) The two groups had different problems. The wealthy were selfish. They showed insensitivity and snobbishness to the poor.  For their part, the poor responded with envy and grumbling. They blamed God for their poverty.  James gave advice on the specific problems of each group, but he also implied they have much in common. For both rich and poor the most important struggle is not external, but rather internal. All of us experience the inner conflict of being pulled by powerful contrary forces.

Competition is not all bad; and differences are not bad at all.  In fact, differences add a delightful bit of spice to what would be an otherwise boring and bland society.  The split occurs when control and coercion take precedence over kindness and respect for another person.

Systems of education and training and work based on control and coercion persist because people don’t know any alternative that will get the job done, and they can’t imagine that any alternative could possibly be as simple as kindness, gentleness, and patience.

The sharp increase in the pace of technological change, the sudden increase in the speed and breadth of global communications, and the increasing awareness of our common dependence on the health of the planet we inhabit together is changing us from a control culture into a connection culture.

The whole world is fraught with changing to a connection culture.  We are not there yet, but we will get there more quickly as we recognize that the diversity of a culture is blessed and connected by a Common Denominator who is our Helper, our Comforter, our Counselor……the Holy Spirit.  It is He who teaches us kindness, gentleness, patience and grace for all.