Thursday, August 03, 2006

Two Decrees of Separation

So here's a couple questions that occurred to me as I read Generation Me by Jean Twenge:
  • Is it more important to decree someone as good or loved?
  • Would you rather be declared good or loved?

It's a fine point of distinction, I admit--so fine, in fact, that I'm not sure I know what the distinction is. Nevertheless, I think it speaks to a dilemma of our culture. I hear song lyrics like "I'm not OK" or "I'm not all right" and I currently can't seem to get out of my head the lyrics to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful": "I am beautiful no matter what they say." If William Hung (God forbid) were to sing it, he might change the lyrics to "I have a beautiful singing voice no matter what they say."

The questions boil down, I suppose, to "What am I hoping to hear from others?" and "What does the world need to hear?" To kick it to the Bible for a minute, what was the rich young ruler in Mark 10 hoping Jesus would say, and what made Jesus' response right?

I'm not telling, I'm asking.

3 comments:

Mr Steve said...

Intersting scriptural reference. Look at verse 21. In loving him, Jesus knew he would have to provide some corrective action (or discipline). Being loved is a lot tougher than being good. I just listened to a very though provoking sermon by James MacDonald Understanding the Disciplines of the Lord Hebrews 12:5-11 that touches on this subject. It's something I am also struggling with at home with the kids. To be loved you're going to get disciplined. It keeps us on track. It keeps us "good". I'd rather be loved, because if I am truly loved being good will come be default. Those that love us, if they truly love us, will help us. I wouldn't hestiate to smack one of my kids with a cattle prod if I thought that that was what it would take to stop them from doing something very dangerous or harmful. Love isn't only about hearts, candy, and little glittery things in greeting cards. It's also about helping those we love be the best people they can, which is not always an easy task. Look around at the "good" people in your life. Chances are they weren't born that way. Someone or several somones loved them into it.

Paul G, Madison, WI said...

Hi Dave,

say, I'm reading that book right now!

Strike that. It's next in line. I'm finishing up a boring but important book about 3rd world slums. Still, this whets my appetite!

Angie said...

It is much easier to tell you what the Bible says about me than to tell you what I'd rather be called. I KNOW I'm not good. But because I am loved so deeply, by someone who IS so good, I strive daily to make my actions and words "good." My intent is for people to see Jesus through me, because if all they see is me, they're going to get a pretty shoddy impression of God. And because God IS good, he doesn't hesitate to discipline me and knock my feet out from under me in the process of shaping me and making me daily a tiny bit more like him.

Just read a very interesting book about CS Lewis called, "Not a Tame Lion" by Bruce Edwards that pointed out some very interesting distinctions about being "good." He discusses Lewis' choice of a lion, and the children's reactions to this. He says, "A safe lion is a contradiction in terms; lions weren't created to be safe for human companionship, to dwell in zoos, or to obey a circus trainer's whims. A safe lion is no help to anyone, least of all to exiled children in a strange land. The Beavers know that if they are to be protected and Edmund is to be saved, they need an intimidating, roaring lion, not a fainthearted, well-mannered one. This explains Mr. Beaver's exasperated response---"Course he isn't safe" when Lucy repeats Susan's question. That isn't the real surprise however. Mr. Beaver says, "But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." Edwards goes on to say "Isn't goodness a synonym for safety? Isn't it akin to meekness or soemthing like timidity? Not safe but good? Reverse it, and you get the effect, Good, but not safe. Goodness can't be trusted to leave us alone, untouched, and unmoved. Goodness makes demands, putting something or someone at risk. Goodness has a very personal price tag."

Of course, there was more. . .this is only the introduction to the chapter. But I suppose it all ties back to what Mr. Steve (is this the Steve I think it is? Spooon!) said. . .he'd not hesitate to use a cattle prod on his children if it were for their ultimate good? So, Steve, I guess that means you're not safe, either. . .

Angie

PS One last quote: "Our goodness is not terrible, or even terribly interesting." Ok, maybe two. "Goodness isn't good for you; it will just make you judgemental."