Friday, February 28, 2014

Treating Persons as Persons

I have one Global Media Outreach contact I get really excited about, every time I see a message from her in my mailbox. I can't use her real name, but let's call her Charity. The reason I get excited is she always asks such smart and perceptive questions. It's obvious she spends a lot of time reading and reflecting on the Word of God.

And in order to answer her questions, I am forced to go back into the Word and dig for nuggets of pure gold to share. It's a process (and an outcome!) that I love, because mining the Bible for truth is one occupation that is incredibly, incredibly fruitful. (Sort of like living near Seattle and hoping to see a little rain occasionally!)

Recently Charity asked: "How do we treat a person as a person?" At first I thought, "Well, that's a silly question!" However, the more I reflected on her question (and I spent several days doing so), the more I realized how profound it really was.

So, here is how I finally responded ...

Dear Charity,

That's a profound question indeed, and I hope you don't mind that I've taken a few days to think about it.

There are two perspectives from which to answer this question, and I think they are very similar.

The first perspective results from a consideration of what we call "The Golden Rule," represented by Christ's teaching in Matt. 7:12 -- "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." As human beings. as persons, I think first and foremost we want to be treated with dignity and respect, granted the freedom that God created us to experience. And, we all want to love and to be loved.

The second perspective comes when we reframe the question: How does God (the First Person) treat us as persons? Shouldn't we "go thou and do likewise?"

And the answers here aren't so much different than those expressed by the Golden Rule. Yes, God loves us ... so much so that He sacrificed Himself for our sake. He gives us amazing dignity and respect as persons.* He always treats us "like adults" and allows us to make our own decisions about good and evil, and to experience the consequences of those decisions.

If we trust Him, he provides for our needs, protects us, and associates Himself with us. The very word for the most significant event in human history (the Incarnation), indicates that God became one of us. "God with us."

God always tells us the truth ... even when it's difficult to hear. He is gracious and merciful, forgiving ("seventy times seven times") those who are willing to accept it. And he wishes for us the peace and joy that He has in Himself.

When it comes to us treating others that way (as persons), it's a tall order. It requires us to "seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God." I don't think any of us (as fallen sinners) can do this, without God's help.

Please let me know what you think.

God bless!

- Larry

*I've always been perplexed by the degree of dignity and respect with which God treats even Satan, his arch-enemy, in Job 1 and 2. But when you think about it, it really says something about God. He created all of us (yes, even Satan) as persons worthy of dignity and respect. Yes, God will ultimately boot the devil and his angels into the Lake of Fire, based on their ultimate commitment to hate and oppose His will. But only our Holy Judge could do such a thing with perfect justice, dignity and respect.

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