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Love, Sweet Love

Most of the people who do not consider themselves Christians know that Jesus was a kind, compassionate man from their knowledge of His teaching and His deeds.  Because of the number of Biblical illustrations of the Master healing the sick, caring for the poor, reaching out to the outcasts, and showing kindness to all, even the unbelievers profess that Jesus was kind to others.  He is revered as one who focused on others more than Himself. 

That is not the way people live.  In the course of life, the desire to “take care of #1” is tantamount.  It is true that many people do seek to help others, but the central belief among our generation is to make sure that you take good care of yourself.   After all, we need “me” time, “alone time”, and “my space” time. It may be that time for others does not occur until it is on our terms, in our good time, and according to how we feel.

In the book, professor Daniel Yankelovich of New York University documented a shift in social values in the 1970s, a shift more massive and more rapid than any of the recent past.

The book was subtitled, “Searching for Self-Fulfillment in a World Turned Upside Down.” The old rules, Yankelovich said, stressed duty to others, particularly to one’s family. If someone were selfish and got caught, it was embarrassing and looked ugly. But no longer. In what Yankelovich calls “the duty to self” ethic, our primary responsibility is for our own needs and interests. All other relationships and values must fit into that order of priority.

Yankelovich expressed that the movement might be liberating, but he was an honest scientist. After tracking 3,000 people in personal, in-depth interviews, and analyzing hundreds of thousands of questionnaires, he admitted that so far, the search for self-fulfillment had been futile. It had resulted in insecurity and confusion. “What is self-fulfillment?” he asked. And “When you find yourself, what will you do with yourself.?”

The frightening thing that he found was that 83 percent of Americans bought into the “new rules,” either in whole or in part. But those foolish people were not evangelical Christians, right? Wrong! James Davison Hunter, in his examination of students and faculty in 16 leading evangelical colleges and seminaries, used Yankelovich’s earlier questionnaire and concluded that evangelicals were more committed to self-fulfillment than their secular counterparts.

“The percentage of evangelical students agreeing with these statements far exceeded the corresponding percentage of the general population,” Hunter wrote. “Self-fulfillment is no longer a natural by-product of a life committed to higher ideals, but rather is a goal, pursued rationally and with calculation as an end in itself. The quest for emotional psychological and social maturity, therefore, becomes normative. Self-expression and self-realization compete for self-sacrifice as a guiding life ethic.”  (Moody, May 1993).

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  John 15:12-13My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  Matt.5:42 – Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Phil.2:3-4 – …in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  And, I think I remember that the second great commandment was to “love your neighbor as yourself”.  That surely is radical!!!!