By Elton D. Higgs
- Sometimes a misreading can lead to a new insight, as when I once misread “Love is stronger than death” as “Love is stronger than desire.” As I thought on the possible meaning of the misreading, I noted that although the first statement expresses a common proverbial sentiment, the second is even more profound. In fact, It seems to me to be a key to understanding the difference between “love” that is a cover for selfish desire and seeks to satisfy itself even at the expense of the “beloved”; and true, self-sacrificing love that seeks the good of the beloved beyond the satisfaction of the lover’s desire. One may ask whether God Himself could have shown supreme love had it not gone beyond His “desire” to remain intact in His Holiness. In loving fallen humans He gave up His immunity to being affected by sin and sacrificed a part of Himself in allowing (indeed, commissioning) His Son to experience all human suffering and to be a sacrifice to redeem sinful mankind. Since supreme love involves sacrifice, what was God to give that would be a real sacrifice for Him, since He is wholly sufficient within Himself? He could only give a part of His own nature—His Son.
- I cannot assess the world honestly without coming to believe in Evil; I cannot believe in Evil without believing in Good; and I cannot believe in Evil and Good without sensing behind their manifestations a metaphysical battle between them. That leads me to a further understanding that this battle is not only in the world around me, but within myself as well. By this process I come to realize that the Evil desires my destruction and has the power to bring it about by preying on my fallen nature. Thus I am drawn toward the One through Whom the Good has been made supremely available to mankind.
- Humans find it hard to believe that service to God can really involve pleasure. People feel more virtuous if they “fulfill their duty” or “obey God’s commands,” for this gives one the feeling that he or she has done something meritorious. The antidote for feeling guilt for legitimate pleasure is not some compensatory duty, but dedicating that pleasure to God. That is not to say that we will always feel like doing what God wants us to, but at least we need not feel guilty when we enjoy it.
- I think the redeeming characteristic of the apostle Thomas was that he wanted to believe, even though he had doubts. The reason many people have no doubts is that they have no desire or feeling of need to believe any more than they think they already comprehend. A searching doubter may well be in a better state than a believer who is too complacent or too fearful to search.
- Sometimes we feel guilty, not because we don’t fulfill God’s image of what we should be doing, but because we don’t fulfill our own image, conceived in pride, of what we should be doing. The “success” of human ambition, willpower, and energy does not necessarily accomplish God’s purposes. There is a certain leisure in God’s busyness, and often a gross ineffectiveness in man’s industry.
Image:”BrugghenDoubtingThomas” by Hendrick ter Brugghen – www.rijksmuseum.nl : Home : Info : Pic. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BrugghenDoubtingThomas.jpeg#/media/File:BrugghenDoubtingThomas.jpeg