One the biggest blind spots we humans seem to have is the ability to “do unto others as we would want done to us.” That’s what makes Jesus’ admonition so interesting. What we’ve called the golden rule, one of the most highly regarded relational principles, we continuously fail to do. In fact, we rarely consider it…unless, of course, someone else is not doing it for us.
Let me give you an example. My wife and have counseled with hundreds of married couples over the last 25 years. Many sessions have been quite humorous and sad at the same time. One such instance, the wife told us she wanted a divorce because her husband cheated on her and that was unforgivable. After a few questions, she mentioned offhand that she had cheated on him to get back at him, not realizing she had just lost any higher moral ground by doing so.
I’ve also had couples where one was constantly verbally abusive, only to turn around and call the police because their spouse hit them. Again, the cognitive disconnect is astounding.
We rarely think of the consequences of our actions with regard to how it will affect others when we think we have the right to do something morally wrong.
Some get mad because nobody comes to visit them, yet they never seem to think that they should probably visit someone once and a while. As Proverbs says, a person who wants friends must himself also be friendly (Prov.18:24).
The first thing we should probably honestly ask ourselves when we get angry with someone is, “Have I been doing the same thing?”
These particular blind spots are what Jesus called the “log in your own eye.” We have no ability to correctly “see” other people because our self-serving perspective has made us blind. And this kind of blindness doesn’t make one righteous, it makes us a hypocrite (Matt.7:1-5).
This relational dysfunction seems to start with our relationship to God. When Adam and Eve judged God’s intent for them, the first thing they did was hide. They hid because they projected their own judgmentalism on Him and, thus, made God in their own image. And we’ve been painting God and other people with this same brush ever since.
We Christians like to preach on Romans 1 and angrily point our fingers at the world’s immoral lifestyle, but the point Paul is actually making follows in Romans 2:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Rom.2:1-4 NIV, emphasis added)
As soon as we set ourselves up as judge to condemn the world around us, we condemn ourselves. To know the heart of God is to know it’s His kindness that leads one to change their mind about the trajectory of their life, not by rubbing their nose in their sinful behavior.
Many anxious souls respond to altar calls so they can escape hell and go to heaven when they die, not because they love the One who makes heaven, heaven. So, when their expectations of what God should do aren’t met, they drop this “god” of their own making with the same superficial conviction.
Other people get mad at God because He “allowed” some tragic thing to happen in their life, yet seem totally oblivious to the fact that they also don’t want God interfering with their “freedom” to do whatever they want. Sorry, you cannot have it both ways. Either you have freedom, which requires choice, risk, reward, and even tragedy, or you have no freedom whatsoever and your life is micromanaged and scripted for you.
We get uncomfortable when others don’t act like us. We don’t want any unexpected responses to what we think should happen. And when our will gets thwarted, we get angry. This is true in every kind of relationship, but especially in politics. Someone we disagree with gets elected and we demonize them and have our tantrums until the next election. If we had our way, there would only be one political party…ours.
We seek certainty and fear mystery. This is why science is so compelling to us, yet science cannot address the biggest mystery of all, why we should exist in the first place.
God is not looking to control us, and we should not look to control others either. As Danny Silk says, it’s our job to manage our relationship with God, and He manages His relationship with us. True freedom in any relationship comes when two relationally powerful people, who take responsibility for their own actions, come together and willingly give of themselves for the other. This is love. Otherwise, you don’t have love, you have self-serving demands and manipulation through fear, which is the opposite of love.
Real love creates intimacy or “in-me-see.” Intimacy happens when there is honest and transparent communication, no hidden agendas, in an environment of other-centered devotion. Being disconnected from intimacy in relationships creates anxiety.
And when we feel anxiety, like Adam and Eve, we hide. Two great hiding places are anger or emotionally shutting down. We’re afraid of what will happen if we’re not in control of our “world,” afraid of being abandoned, of being alone, so we manipulate people to control our world.
It’s God’s perfecting love that drives out this orphan-hearted fear (1 John 4:18). On the other hand, it’s a very frustrating thing to demand that everyone, including God, be us.