Growing up in elementary school, I learned about something really mind-boggling. It was in an oceanography class. The teacher was describing something that happened to deep-sea divers when they came up to the surface too quickly. It was a malady known as “the Bends.”
Here’s the official description of the Bends:
The Bends is an illness that arises from the rapid release of nitrogen gas from the bloodstream and is caused by bubbles forming in the blood when a diver ascends to the surface of the ocean to rapidly. It is also referred to as Caisson sickness, decompression sickness (DCS), and Divers’ Disease.
The teacher also told stories about fish quickly being pulled up from the deep that surfaced with bulged eyes and deformed bodies…all a result of the Bends.
All I know is that when I was swimming in the deep end of our pool, I made sure not to rise too quick.
But this blog post isn’t really about the affects of aquatic decompression.
The topic on my mind is the fact that as a Christian, we all must learn to bend.
Meaning, we must learn to compromise and think of others ahead of ourselves.
Paul wrote as much in Philippians 2:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)
For some of us, the challenge given in this verse is just that…a challenge.
We don’t like to bend or adapt for others.
But, simply put, it’s the way of the Master.
Why do I say that. Consider the verses that follow Paul’s instruction:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-9 ESV)
Jesus bent for you and me. Not just a little, but a lot.
Rather than stand up for His rights, He laid down His life for our salvation.
Rather than claim power, He released His to become a servant.
He chose humility and obedience over status and the serving of self.
And one way we acknowledge our understanding of what He did on our behalf is treating others in the same fashion.
Deferring instead of demanding.
Letting others go first or letting others take our place.
It’s so hard, I know.
Though it was not God’s original design, humanity has a strong desire to look out for number one: ourselves.
But the mandate of scripture is to consider the needs (even the wants) of others.
I’ve heard it said (though I don’t know who said it) that The measure of a man’s greatness is not the number of servants he has, but the number of people he serves.
That only happens when we bend; when we flex to accommodate another human being.
My strange brain wonders…when a man comes to the surface of the ocean too quickly, he is physically affected in a negative way. We call it the Bends. And the Bends are to be avoided at all costs.
But perhaps it might be said that, in regard to our human relationships, we must pursue “the bends.” If we don’t develop a lifestyle of flexibility and willingness to defer to others, perhaps we may not look any different on the outside, but on the inside, spiritually, we may suffer greatly because we’ve put too much of the focus on ourselves, and not on those around us.