The Bible tells us to love God and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. The command to love our neighbour is a huge subject, which I write more about, in more detail later. But how do we love God, when he doesn’t necessarily need our love and there is nothing we can do to help him or care for him?
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
Luke 10:27 NLT
Types of love
We could be talking about ‘falling in love’ which is more to do with our emotions than how we treat other people.
We live in a capitalist economy, based on exchange of goods and services using the medium of money. When we buy or sell something, we make an agreed exchange of value. In theory nobody wins and nobody loses, but in practise the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Is there an alternative?
If we all valued other people as much as we value ourselves, a culture of giving could create a different sort of economy. An economy based on ‘loving our neighbour as ourselves’; where as we look after the interests of others, we can feel secure in the knowledge that others are looking after our interests. I know that this seems idealistic, but bear with me as we explore the matter further. Continue reading “Towards an alternative economy”
Last week some of my family attended the funeral of a friend who had died at the age of 51 years old from a heart attack. Was it in God’s plan? I don’t believe that God planned for his life to be cut short. I don’t believe that God wanted that. I don’t believe that his premature death was a punishment in any way.
Does God plan that every 3/4 seconds, a child dies of preventable diseases?
Did God plan for half a million people die in an earthquake in Haiti?
Did God condemn 400,000 Vietnamese boat people to drown at sea whilst seeking a new life in a better country?
Did God plan for me to have a stroke 10 years ago?
In a world full of so much suffering, it is easy to lose sight of the beauty all around us in this world we live in. Yes, there is the ugliness of poverty and injustice, but there is so much beauty to be thankful for as well.
Last week, Christine and I went to Yorkshire and visited the beautiful village of West Burton where I had lived, but only as a baby. My parents had moved north to a safe place, far away from the bombs and noise of the second world war, and I had been born there. Travelling in the Yorkshire Dales, the beauty of the hills and the valleys in between took our breath away.
As we look around us at the world, we see so much suffering, poverty, disease and violence. Our leaders, politicians and governments have made such a mess of things. Selfishness, greed and corruption seem to rule everything. We threaten our very existence with nuclear weapons and contempt for our environment. Billions live in poverty and millions of children die every day of preventable diseases.
And yet we see so much beauty all around us. Our natural world is full of beauty and wonders. People have created fantastic music, art and literature. Our scientists are eliminating some diseases such as leprosy, polio and smallpox and there is hope for cures from the killer diseases: malaria, aids and cancer.
When God created us, in his image, he also gave us free wills. But mankind has gone its own way and refused to acknowledge the plan God had for us. But God’s plan has always been one of restoration and reconciliation. Jesus came to institute a new kingdom which would radically change the world we live in. In the Gospels, this is known as the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven.
I was brought up to believe that Christians would always be a minority and that we had to defend ourselves from the ‘world’ and from those who would try to destroy our faith and steal our values and beliefs. Our church was like a castle with the drawbridge up. If only we can hang on till Jesus comes and judges our enemies, then will be saved, but everyone else will be for ever punished in Hell.
We tried our best to drag others in but every Sunday the gospel was preached largely to the already converted. “Come and join us,” was the message: “Sign on the dotted line, believe what we believe, stop smoking, drinking and dancing and we will accept you as one of us”.
I have been writing about some of the injustices I see in the world and aim to campaign to reduce it’s impact. Part of the answer is to have stronger laws and stronger law enforcement to eliminate them. Another part of the answer is to make people aware so that injustice becomes unacceptable. But what is the root cause of injustice? There is no avoiding the fact that we are dealing with human nature at the deepest level.
Jesus affirmed the Old Testament law: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Italics mine). The implication here is clear: how we love and treat other people, is linked very closely to how we love and treat ourselves. I must admit that I have often emphasised the first part – loving our neighbour – and ignored the second part – loving ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves we do not have much basis for loving other people. We may feel uncomfortable about the idea of loving ourself. Connotations include selfishness, and “looking after number one”. But there is a place for loving, and caring for, ourself so that we are free to love other people. In this article I want to explore this in more detail.