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Friday, May 10, 2013

Off the Chain

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26 NIV). 

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48 NIV).

Jesus taught that we should love our enemies. It is said that this is impossible for humans to do without the intercession of God. I would like to discuss the logic structure that complements divine intercession. Humans have a tremendous need for justice. We are hurt by our enemy because their ad hominem opposition to us represents an attempt to invalidate our sense of worthiness—perhaps even to the point of homicide. Thus, justice demands retribution.

The Christian belief system sets in place a structure that outflanks such attacks and precludes the infliction of hurt. This is because a believer accepts the proposition that God – a transcendental being – loves him and finds him worthy. David said that he has sinned against God alone. Likewise our focus for final validation is on God alone rather than man. From this perspective our enemy does not impact through their hatred a hurt that in human terms calls for retribution. That is so because we are receiving absolute and transcendental validation from God and it is to him alone that we look for validation. (God is his own validation and does not require us to validate him, thereby our freedom is real.)

That is why it is so important for leaders to be believers. In leadership positions one usually has enemies—or less dramatically, opposition—aplenty. It is extremely poisonous and disruptive to the process of task definition when this critical activity is sidetracked by tit for tat acrimony. This can only be avoided from the perspective induced by belief. The believer does not retaliate since he has not been hurt in the first place. And he has not been hurt in the first place because he receives all necessary validation transcendentally from the heavenly father. Leaders who are believers do not become sidetracked by internecine one-upmanship in the infliction of pain. A believing leader can therefore be task focused rather than preoccupied with pursuit of revenge.

The reason I quoted Luke 14:26 is to demonstrate that even in family relationships one’s loyalty is ultimately to God alone. And this transcendental relationship brings with it absolute validation by God. Another way of putting this is that by being a believer in the home, the believer frees his relatives from love’s duress – the blackmail of codependency is absent. So paradoxically, by “hating” loved ones, the believer imbues his family relationships with true freedom.

To illustrate points discussed here I refer to the “Little Joke”. The cantilever can be viewed as the ultimate focus (line of sight) directed to God alone:

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