Saturday, December 01, 2007

Reactivity Scale

When I read about the folks in The Sudan who want to kill a Middle Aged woman from England because she allowed some of her students to name a teddy bear Mohamed, I can think of little else other than "Reactivity". When we are dealing with people who are reactive it is easy to spot. For example, they are extremely serious. A sense of humor is not allowed, especially on subjects they take seriously.

Second, their emotional reaction is far greater than the offense. If I tell a joke about Hillary and they are big fans of hers, the reaction will be one of serious umbrage at my "attack". Then, a great effort to convince me that Hillary is more holy than Mother Teresa.
Third, God wants to give them His peace.

We family therapists have had some training in the subject of Reactivity. There is a a scale to determine whether one is Peacefully Responsive or Anxiously Reactive. I use Zero indicate Perfect Peace. Ten is used to indicate high Anxiety.

When Jesus was before Pilate and was threatened by him, He remained peaceful and refused to React to the threats of such a very powerful man. He was a Zero.

But Peter, one of the, big guys who follwed Jesus was Reactive. When the cops came to arrest Jesus, Peter was about an eight or nine on the Reactivity Scale and cut the ear off one of them. Jesus calmly put it back on the guard.

Not all Muslims are as Reactive as those in Sudan. I worked with and had a lot of fun with many Muslims in Singapore. Most were Peaceful and Responsive rather than Anxious and Reactive. I even trained them how to set up Divorce Recovery Groups and Mentoring Models for school kids. They were attentive and caring students.

But here is the point for us. Are you and I Reactive or Responsive when someone "pushes our button" on some topic? Hamida, the Muslim lady with whom I worked, told Karen that she was unable to find a Christian who would listen to her ideas. They all wanted to "preach to her". If our preaching is from personal defensiveness rather than love, it will not be very effective.

When Bill Clinton was President many of my friends Reactive whenever his name came up. Why did they allow that to evoke such anxiety? Now, some of my friends are Reactive to George W. Why do they allow his name to bother them?

Reactivity indicates that we need to grow in an area. It is God's Yellow Caution Light warning us that we have lost our peace. Like the bumper stickers from the Seventies, "Support Peace or I will Kill You."

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