By, Isam Itson III
Love rejoices in the truth. – 1 Corinthians 13:6
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, – Psalm 24:1
For the loving person, the truth revealed in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures of who God is, the interests of God, and who we are to God, is supreme.
In spite of the fact that God’s interests are supreme, it is very difficult not to get caught up in seeking personal advantage and self justification. When our son was three or four years old he came out of his room and asked me if he could do something, or go somewhere. I can’t remember his specific request, but I told him , “no” because it was time for him to take a nap. About five minutes later he burst out of his room looked me in the eye and defiantly declared, “you’re the worst dad in the whole world!!” Then he stomped back into his room and fell asleep.
Contrary to the overwhelming evidence of our love for our son, he had focused on the temporary refusal of his desired request and concluded that I was the embodiment of tyranny and neglect. If I had followed the path set by our political leaders I would have immediately responded to our sons accusation with an equally extreme accusation of his intractable ingratitude and foolish shortsightedness. We would then go back and forth slinging public insults at each other, seeking personal advantage and public support for the concerns and grievances that best serve our immediate interests and desires.
Thankfully, a cooler head prevailed and I honored the integrity and nature of our relationship as father and son. I remembered my love and responsibility to him. I considered his age and limited life experience. I recalled the fact that his statement did not reflect the truth of our relationship as defined by God or our typical times together. I overlooked his offensive outburst as something for him to work through. I let him sleep. When he woke up life went on as usual as if nothing had ever been said. Our happy home and loving relationship were unfazed.
This type of level headed calm is much more difficult to maintain when we are under stress, full of self doubt, or confronted with an offender that is a peer or an authority figure. But the principle is the same. The person opposed to me is made in God’s image. They are loved by God. Jesus Christ died for them and the Holy Spirit desires that they walk in agreement with him, to the praise of God’s glory.
Love delights in the integrity and reality of God’s power, love and grace, because God has already accounted for our needs in the fulfillment of his eternal interest for us in Creation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Therefore, over time, a loving person can disentangle themselves from any aspect of self interest or group identity that dishonors the truth of God’s love for the person or group that stands in opposition to them. The person who stands with God does not have to worry about the loss of temporary prestige, privilege, or favor on their “side” in society. The person who stands with Jesus Christ needs only to concern themselves with the interest of God to reveal himself through his people to all people.
This is the good news that we call the Gospel. It frees us from the shortsighted goals of personal and political interest. The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ frees us to pursue God’s purpose for Creation everyday of our lives, with all of the resources, gifts, and talents that he has given us. God blesses us so that we may more consistently and faithfully spend our lives blessing others in his name. That focus means we can never be fully at home within any personal relationship, social identity group, or political party where the other person or members are not wholly dedicated to honoring God’s love for others, no matter the price. Because the truth is God is in charge, and we are not. He made us to honor and serve his interest and not our own.
And what exactly is God’s interest? More on that in the next article.
1. Why are we so tempted to get caught up with the shortsighted goals of personal and political interest groups?
2. What steps can you take today, to reveal God to people that you disagree with?