are you being played?

Most people know when they are being played.

That is, they know when they aren’t being taken purely for who they are, loved as they are, appreciated as they are, delighted in as they are.

In a true loving relationship do you have an agenda? Of course not. If one person in the relationship has an agenda for the relationship the purity of the relationship is already spoiled. Even the most seemingly intimate relations will be superficial and strategic plays to further the individual’s agenda, therefore undermining the so-called intimacy.

Generally, churches that function as liturgical gatherings don’t apply here because a service is provided that you take or leave. But churches that claim to be fellowships, families or communities need to be agenda free. This is the only way they can work as fellowships, families or communities.

As I said, most people can smell a mile off when they are being played, when they hear “relationship” with their ears but feel “cog in a machine” in their heart. Most people can tell almost immediately when they are being used for another purpose. Some are willing to sacrifice themselves to this higher purpose as if to Baal. But my hope is that people will wait until they’ve found what they’re looking for.

I have written a book called Without a Vision My People Prosper that is about this very issue. It’s 170 pages of writing and chock full of related cartoons. It is to be launched soon but is available now on Amazon: CLICK HERE!

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  • Jeff

    David, this is a clear and sincere message that is classical ‘naked pastor’. You are a steady, nurturing leader who wants people to be loved and to belong. Keep pushing this, David. You make Christianity human, whether it wants to be or not.

  • thanks jeff. nice to hear that.

  • All of us are ‘being played’ in one way or another in this pride-soaked world.

    We are being had. By the world, the flesh (our own complicity), and the devil.

    Thanks be to God that there is One who is not after us to play us, but because He loves us and wants to heal us and make right all the ills of this corrupt world.

  • Hey David,
    The saddest realty is that many people don’t realise they are being played and that is partly because the players are often
    un aware they are playing and partly because some don’t want to know they are being played, the deceptions that are at work here run so deep even the most sincere people fall foul to them…on both sides of the coin. It is a shocking revelation to find you have been played…especially by people you trust.
    Keep shouting from the rooftops..the gospel is a message of freedom,and you are inspiring people to ask difficult questions and find it, thank you. Jx

  • I had a pastor once who explained that “cults” befriend first and teach after, but a church teaches first. You become a “body” because of the substance you share. This bond is even deeper than “friendship”.

    Not that friendship is wrong and we definitely try to be friendly with everyone we meet, but a friendship with specific design is just what David describes.

  • This is part of the reason I have come to feel safer in liturgical services. Ronald Rolheiser in his book The Holy Longing makes a case for short, liturgical services as more healing in the long run. What is less healing is a parishioner looking for a church in a psycho-sexual way. The church might be Christ’s bride, but it’s not your sexual partner. It cannot do what only a spouse can do. And people who come to church looking for that can only be disappointed, like married people who are disappointed in their marriages, which is legion. Rolheiser cites AA as a model here. If you have ever been to them, they aren’t filled up with the relational. Brief, to the point, a few “Hi, my name is…” and then you ae out the door. Do that one time a day or several times a day and you hit sort of a rhythm that doesn’t demand unrealistic expectations on what others at AA are supposed to give you. Faithful Roman Catholics don’t seem to have this huge relational gap in their faith. They don’t expect the church to be something it is not, something you hear all the time in my evangelical circles. So less can be more.

  • Play and Be Played. The concern with “being played” it seems to me, eclipses the fact that I am also always a player. I have my own agenda, aim,ego-conscious and driven purpose (“vision”) which is something like a beam in my I: it blocks my own manipulation. All I can see is the others’–playing me. “Most people know when they are being played,” says Naked Pastor. Do most people know that they are also “players.” “Ludic”: play, game. “Illudic” (illusion, delusion): to be out-of-it, not in-play, not in-game. Pray for dis-illusionment.

  • My spiritual director often says to me “we are ticks looking for a dog”. The image isn’t refined but the harshness of the meataphore is true enough. There is an exchange going on that does something for the tick. I have to constantly ask myself what is driving me to relationships and environments that make me vulnerable to some very unhealthy dynamics.

  • The habit (tick-looking-for-dog) might be more fully examined if not explained by factoring int he flip side (dog looking for tick). Just sayin. Don’t we tend to one-side of the coin?

  • David Waters

    The play is so often $$. Sadly many, like myself, throw the baby out with the bath water. I miss the family but the institution repels me.

  • I was reading something, I can’t remember what, oh, yes, a Reformed book on worship “A more profound Alleluia” (usually I would recommend “Heaven on Earth” on the early church’s life.)

    Anyhow in this book it was mentioned that the new-comer/seeker to the church would be asked what he is wanting from it, and the answer is: “faith”.

    We come to church looking for faith. I can live with that. The Lutheran would add that this faith comes through word and sacrament. And this faith is not a “me and Jesus” thing but a making one loaf out of many, each working out his own vocation, not just for his own benefit.

    There have to be some visions, such as putting the best people in leadership. There will inevitably be leadership. And the leadership must have a vision of service.