It is becoming a convention of modern preachers to reference USC Philosophy professor, speaker, and author Dallas Willard’s lines about “flying upside down.” This idea is probably something we should consider often. In his discourse about our cultural values, Willard affirms “What is truly profound is thought to be stupid and trivial, or worse, boring, while what is actually stupid and trivial is thought to be profound. That is what it means to fly upside down.” Of course, none of us would readily profess to flying upside down in our own lives…would we? It is always the other guy; the neighbor who works too much, the guy who can’t keep a job, the friend who is always chasing the next big purchase, the people who seem to live solely for the next vacation, the church which welcomes that kind of person or the one which shuts that person out, the citizen who votes Democrat or the one who votes Republican. We cannot determine which way is up until we are willing to look closely into our own lives.
We must surveythe aims, goals and beliefs that govern our daily decisions. We have to step out of the rat-race for a moment and ask: Where do Iplace most of my time? What do I really value? Where do I spend most of my money? How much have I bought into the ideas and philosophies of popular culture? These are all significant questions. If the American church has forgotten anything, it has lost sight of the fact that ourbeliefs arecounter-cultural. The Christian faith requires that we walk away from the great competition and hold our lives up to a different measure. But what is that different measure?
I wonder if the compass to rescue us from spiritual vertigo isn’t far more obvious. Despite what some churches teach, our faith does not promise success, health, wealth or beauty. We are not rewarded for aggression or even honored for achievement. So how can we measure faithfulness? How do we ascertain which way we are flying? As we take a moment to slow down and examine our hearts, I believe we can tell whether we are following the One who promises “I will give you rest” by asking ourselves how much we are experiencing the one thing this world cannot deliver to our hearts and minds – peace.
I heard an old preacher say that when we honestly consider the difference between what we do and what God would have us do, we are also measuring the depth of unrest in our soul. Maybe he was right; maybe we should let peace be our compass. Perhaps aiming toward peace can have us flying right side up.