A harmonious choir, at least at the level of the national media, continues to sing that all kinds of discriminatory behaviors still plague us and separate us. Separation and disharmony among people hinders image-flourishing for all because flourishing can occur only in and with individuals as they, in turn, are contributing in numerous ways to the community.
Racism in recent days has received a great deal of attention, appropriately so, but there is another divisive instrument that is being played by some with the impact of thwarting image-flourishing. This is the instilling of jealousy through distorted appeals to class distinctions. The idea has often been propagated that people who have prospered With a proper focus on God, who ultimately brings all things together under his perfect will, combined with an advocacy of and a joy in the achievement of others, image-flourishing would be greatly advanced.financially have done so through manipulation of business channels at best, and outright theft, at worse. Such charges could easily disincentivize image-flourishing initiatives.
Any time there are discussions of image-flourishing in the financial sphere, there are legitimate concerns of greed, the accumulation of wealth, and the accumulation and maintenance of power. I had suggested in an earlier reflection that the Old Testament institution of the Jubilee year was, among other things, a mechanism of accountability against these very dangers (when followed, of course). But the God who said: “And you shall not steal” (Deuteronomy 5:19, ESV), also said: “And you shall not covet…” (5:21).
Revisiting the Jubilee passage in Leviticus 25 safeguards the people of God against greed with the potential of stealing and coveting forms of jealousy. The safeguard is the reminder of the centrality of God in all things: “fear your God (vs. 17, 36), “the land is mine” (v. 23), and “I am the Lord your God” (v. 38). The authentic focus of heart and mind upon God in reverence and gratitude would dramatically affect how the people would treat one another (“You shall not wrong one another…v. 17). This safeguard provides another opportunity for the Church as the people of God to model an advocacy of one another that would mutually enhance image-flourishing.
The New Testament powerfully expresses this same focus on God and the desired impact on human relationships:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40)
D. A. Carson holds that the use of the component parts still calls a believer to love God with “the whole person” (Matthew, 464). Love “in the truest sense demands abandonment of self to God, and God alone is the adequate incentive for such abandonment” (Ibid). God is worthy of such loving devotion, but it is also that which empowers right relationships with other human beings. Such empowerment enables a counting of “others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Greed and the accumulation of power are ugly human traits and they can be very divisive among people, even in the Church. Jealousy, can also be a divider and can thwart some from becoming all that they can be and doing all that they can do.
With a proper focus on God, who ultimately brings all things together under his perfect will, combined with an advocacy of and a joy in the achievement of others, image-flourishing would be greatly advanced. Concurrently, those who gain power and prestige through appeals to jealousy and division would be hindered in their objectives through the practice of good will to one another. All must begin in the Church.
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