Friday, August 28, 2009

The Other Side of the Coin

I'm still pondering why people and relationships cannot and should not function on the capitalistic laws of supply and demand... and I had a small (and ongoing) epiphany: the other side to viewing people as consumer products is that it of necessity predicates that we view ourselves the same way. If we see others for what they can offer us, then surely we are valued only for what we can offer them. Intellectually, I know Jesus broke down the walls to this errant way of seeing things, this impossible cycle of earned love. But in my heart I still don't believe it.

I so desperately want to earn someone's love - for them to see my "credentials" - the people that I know, those that love me, the good works that I have done and that I do; I want them to see the sacrifices that I've made... I want their pity, their admiration, their respect - their unconditional love based on what I have done.

The only flaw in this all-too pervasive approach to relating is that if love can be earned, it can also be un-earned... so we are always caught up in the tension of trying not to fall from grace, of putting our best foot forward, and of trying to repress who we really are, what we really feel so as not to lose our so arduously gained grace.

Again, the unavoidable truth is that we view others through the lenses with which we also view ourselves. The one who condemns most viciously is indeed most likely feeling the danger and imminence of condemnation. The manipulator is forever fearing and guarding against being manipulated. ... To the pure, all things are pure.

So - how to take off all the disguises and masks, and discard the intentions of the efforts? Integrity in being and doing, no hypocrisy - no walking around needing to look like someone that we're not? Save me, Jesus from this body of sin and death... because I can feel the death working in me as I try and try to do the impossible - to merit un-earnable grace.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Consumer Commodities?

Today I am struck by the thought (due to the conglomeration of many different events and impressions) that there is no good excuse or situation for treating people as commodities... no matter if it is for labor as an employee, services rendered (as in a restaurant), or the even stickier and harder to define commodities of friendship and relationship.  

I think one of the most disappointing feelings is realizing that what I thought was friendship, was really just a commodity to someone else... that I was appreciated for what I represented, for what I was seen to have to offer and for the future potential imagined by the consumer.  No one wants to be something to someone, earning the "love" that is given.  We would much rather be someone, and loved just because.  Period.  But then after further reflection, I realized that I am guilty of the same...  to the motocar drivers, to the waitress at the restaurant, ... to people who work in the office, and even at certain times to friends.  God has a great method for revealing the beam in my eye as I glimpse the speck in my brother's.  

When we see people for what they can give us, for what we can get from the relationship, or even more insidious, for what we think they "owe" us because of what we have done for them, they become less than people to us, turning into something for us to consume.  It is the principle that slavery and sweat shops are based on.  The excuse for rudeness and theft. It is how the child sex trade prospers and what movie stars are made of.  

I am convinced that Jesus never once saw a person as a thing that could serve him in any way, but saw each individual as just that... a unique and invaluable person an irreplaceable rendering of the image of His Father.  How did Jesus view people as people all day, every day? Even those who did him an injustice? I'm not sure, but I would indeed like to grow in that kind of perspective and love.  

And then after this thought today, there was the small and terrible question that followed: Do I view God as a commodity? Eeek.  Am I truly in love with Jesus and loving him, or am I merely in love with the thought of being in love with him... prostituting what he's given me to others for my own personal gain and benefit.  How amazing is His grace truly, that would save a wretch like me.