Friday, June 27, 2008

The Three Christs of Ypsilanti

In 1964 a mental hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan had 3 patients in their facility that claimed to be Jesus. Milton Rokeach, a staff member at the hospital, had a brilliant idea of how these three schizophrenic patients may assist in one another's treatment. His hypothesis went something like this...if we can put these three men together they will see the absurdity in their claims and essentially will assist one another in their healing. Rokeach thought that the worst case scenario might be for one of the men to have a more dominant personality and convince the other two men of his deity status and even that would be acceptable because then they would only have one patient with a "savior complex" rather than three. Had this experiment in treatment worked it would have been groundbreaking and could have revolutionized the ways in which the mentally ill are treated...but guess, what? Rokeach never could have imagined what happened next.

It seems that these three "Christs" did not cure one another. In fact, their kindness, willingness to compromise and creativity lead to additional issues for them. Rather than coming to the conclusion that none of them were Jesus or one of them convincing the other two that they were not Jesus, the three men decided that the Christ-like thing to do would be to divide up the responsibilities of Jesus so they could all effectively "co-reign" as the Messiah. I think one decided to be the Christ of Salvation while another took the role of the Christ of Miracles and the last was deemed to be the Christ of Service...I think its really nice for these men to share...something I try to teach my sons daily.

The complications from this were alarming. The three were not only mentally ill and sure that they were Jesus, but now they were also interwoven with the illnesses of others which makes any steps toward recovery much more difficult.

As weird as this sounds, I think it is not totally an unbiblical idea. Obviously, claiming to be Jesus is not a biblical idea but acting like Jesus is. Now I can't argue effectively that I should look like or be anyone who "saves" the traditional sense of the word, but I think being a Christ-like servant or a Christ-like giver or a Christ-like lover...absolutely.

Paul spends time writing about something on which I haven't heard a huge amount of teaching. Spiritual Gifts! This topic usually stays in the realm of speaking in tongues, prophesy and healing. That debate seems to have been run into the ground and people on neither side of that argument seem to have budged in any large numbers. What about the other gifts though?

1 Corinthians 12:27-31
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

It seems that God does not intend for us all to hold and operate in every gift. For example, we all have the responsibility to love but some are especially gifted for teaching, administration and helping others. That's really cool because for me anyway, that removes a ton of pressure. All I have to do...and all you have to do, is live, behave and serve in the way(s) in which God intends...the ways God has already gifted us to do. But now comes a difficult part of that...

What are your gifts? In what spiritual gift(s) are you called to operate? In which ways has God created you to serve? Sadly, many of us have no clue about how we were made to best how do we find out? I don't know every way but I know that prayer isn't a bad place to start. And perhaps living sacrificially would be a good step. I might also suggest that we intentionally keep from conforming to the patterns, institutions, expectations, systems and attitudes of the world...look to God for those things as we ask God to conform us...or perhaps form us to what He has in mind for us. Why do I say that? Well, check out what Paul wrote in Romans 12...

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There seems to be a causal effect between transformation by God and the renewing of our minds with being able to test and approve God's will. I ask you to join me this weekend as I focus more than usual on God's will and seeking God's transforming hand for my family. May God bless us all in our search for Him. Let's rest in the assurance offered by Jeremiah.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I bid happy seeking!!!


Ed Dodds said...

FWIW: There are some "spiritual gift inventories/surveys" which can be helpful in beginning the contemplation. Just google 'em.

Blake said...

Thanks Ed and welcome.

I have never taken one of these surveys. How accurate do you find them to be?

BTW, how did you run across my blog?