The Priority Of People

The big word inter-personal relationship simply means how we relate not only to ourselves, but to anybody and everybody for that matter, and the Bible seems to highlight the concept of priority of people into this area. God created man for fellowship with Himself, not so much because He needs it as He desires it. God desiring to have fellowship with man created in His image surely shows that man thereby desires fellowship as well. Interestingly, as we study the creation account in Genesis 1:31 it says, “it is very good” speaking about creation. In Genesis 2:18. the first time it ever says that something is not good is that when it says, “It’s not good for man to be alone”. That has just wiped me out completely, here is God and man in perfect fellowship, walking and talking in the garden. Sin had not yet entered the world, and man needed more than simply fellowship with God. What a staggering thought. You mean we’re made in such a way that we need someone else like us, as well as God? Yes. We’re social creatures; we must have someone else, and of course here’s where Adam and Eve comes in.

As you know there is a tension between the appropriate love for self and the love for others, and this tension i think goes back to the Fall which i guess is the saddest part in the Bible (cf. Gen. 3:8-13). God came walking in the cool of the garden to visit Adam. God had met with Adam for how many years, we don’t know, maybe decades, maybe millenia for all we know. “Adam where are you?” – of course God didn’t need information about the location of Adam. The problem was Adam didn’t know where he was. And this whole scenario God says, “What have you done?” – and Adam passes the blame to the woman, and the woman passes the blame to the snake in turn. Do you catch how man was estranged from himself, estranged from his wife, estranged from his world, and estranged from his God? That tension in our relationship has been there, and yet i think we have to come back and give it a perspective on that. I think too often we say, “self-love is evil”. That can’t be true. God loves all. He loves us individually. First, i think we can say that God loves you is a true Biblical statement. But God also loves all mankind collectively. In Leviticus 19:18 which is often quoted in the New Testament, the Bible says. “…love your neighbor as yourself”. That implies that an appropriate self-love is mandatory for a proper love for others. This is quoted so often in the New Testament, and Paul summarizes it in Romans 13:9 when he says, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Our love for others really show our love for God. We ought to love others, not just loving ourselves (cf. 1 Cor. 10:24; 13:5; Phil. 2:22-30). Personal fulfillment is linked to God’s larger purpose in our life, which involves us loving the world as He loves the world (cf. Jn. 3:16). This is really what the New Testament calls Christlike-ness or becoming more and more like God (cf. Gal. 4:19).

The Bible is primarily a relationship book. Scripture is not a rule book, or a systematic theology. It is primarily a relationship book. It tells us how God has dealt with individuals and the way He deals with individuals is consistent with the way He wants to deal with us, and the way He wants us to deal with others. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (i.e. Jn. 13:34) – is probably a classic example of not self-love only but we love others as Christ loved us. Do you catch the magnification, intensification of appropriate self-love issuing into love for others on the basis of God’s love for us? How God acts is how we ought to act. Of course we do not know what is in man’s hearts as God would know, we are not there to relate to others exactly like God relates to individuals, but we have to relate to others in a trusting and forgiving way. I guess that’s what i want to say. People are priority with God, and they must become priority with us. We must not let ourselves, our will, our wants become the center of all things. the individual is not priority, the corporate whole is priority.