The Relational Economy: Investing - Part 3
- Tuesday, July 27, 2010
We who are Christians live in a world that does not share our values. This means that not everyone will value what we value. Not everyone will invest where we would invest, in the poor, the weak, the ugly—the uncool. We have come across the "treasure hidden in a field" and "in our joy sold all [we] had (Matthew 13:44). But not everyone is as excited by our find. To many it is just a field.
What makes it valuable is not the treasure, but how we value it. The treasure is the Kingdom of God. It may look like some ordinary stone in an ordinary field but to us it is of immense value. We are of immense value.
In the relational economy it is always gold we seek. We dare not squander our worth on copper or bronze and should not invest in such baser things. Finding that person who is gold will bring you joy. Then, and only then, should you sell all you have.
I don't mean that you should sell all you have for every field, but that you should treat every field as though it contained that treasure. Treat each person you encounter as though they were that treasure, for in the eyes of their maker—they are.
Sometimes you will stand in a field and see only weeds, but wait. By the grace of God, even "the desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom" (Isaiah 35:1). Even the desert can be transformed at his word.
In the Christian relational economy we must always be concerned with how we invest what others have entrusted to us. We must be careful to return the blessing given to us. We must work toward that place of loving Gomer—for we are all Gomers. We are all in need of a love that sees us as God sees us. It may seem as though you are looking at an ordinary soul and then along comes Gomer.
We do not speak as the world speaks.
We do not think as the world thinks.
And we do not invest as the world invests.
This makes the ungodly way we have treated others and have been treated in relationships all the more tragic. But the offense is not against a person alone. The offense is against the very investment GOD has made in us and in that person. To squander, mistreat, disdain, or devalue another person marked by God's Spirit is tragic. It is also dangerous because God will call such things to account.
C. S. Lewis wrote,
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you
now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. …
It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities … it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ‘ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. … it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."
— C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
We should tremble at the thought of misspending or squandering that which has been given to us by the Lord. "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." It is a serious thing to fail to see as God sees.
Lewis beautifully presents the crux of our Christian lives. We are people of hope who can speak of "these overwhelming possibilities." Part of the problem in approaching relationships is not only that we have ordinary desires but that we see others as ordinary people. I agree wholeheartedly with Lewis: "There are no ‘ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal." That God has vested ANYONE with life means that you have encountered someone who bears the image of God.
So, "it is with the awe and the circumspection (caution or prudence) proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics." Think how different the stories would be if each person had been treated with the "awe and circumspection proper to them." The relational economy would be that much better if all our dealings were conducted with this grander vision in mind
Think about it! "You have never talked to a mere mortal. … it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit." Does it not make you tremble at the responsibility? We should tremble, and then if we are wise we will end up on our knees where we should have been all the time. We cannot conduct ourselves properly in the relational economy without help. We are not nearly up to the task when we still see people as "trees walking around."
We enter relationships with what we can see, but if we are in the Lord we enter relationships KNOWING there is more. We enter relationships conscious that the penny we offer is backed by God's millions and sealed with his Spirit. We enter relationships with the conviction that the child of God we approach is wealthy no matter how ragged they may appear. They are, as we are, precious in the sight of the Lord and thus—precious to us.
It is hard to accept that we "snub and exploit" each other, but we do. It is sad to think that we quite often fail to appreciate the wonderful gifts God sends our way. This is true even of the relationships that do not mature and, sadly, it is true in marriage. Somewhere in the process we should do all we can to make certain that the other person grows if only a little. It should be a defining goal of each relationship to make sure the other person is able to see God and his love just a little more clearly.
If we purpose anything less, we are still walking around blind to the truths of God. If we purpose anything less, we are still caught up in our own pride and selfishness. Dying to self means viewing others in light of their great value before God. That would be beautiful.
Hudson Russell Davis was born on a small Island in the West Indies called Dominica, and this is only one reason he does not like cold weather and loves guava. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a B.A. in Graphic Design and earned a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at Saint Louis University studying historical theology. Hudson has worked as a graphic artist and worship leader but expresses himself through poetry, prose, photography, and music. His activities are just about anything outdoors, but tennis is his current passion. He and his wife Rachel were married in 2009.
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**This article first published on July 27, 2010.
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