Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:May 18th, 2010 17:21 EST
Relationships (Part Seven)

Relationships (Part Seven)

By Ignatius Fernandez

 "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor`s, and to God, the things that are God`s." Mark 12:17

God sets us the best example in relationships. How? Christian teaching confirms that there are three persons in God - The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit. The three distinct persons are equal in the God-Head. There is a perfect relationship among the three; perfect harmony. Hindu teaching shares the same belief. By three different names - Brahma, Vishnu, Siva - they co-exist in one God; in harmony. When God Himself gives us an example in happy relationships, should we not learn from Him? God who is Love, affirms that loving Him and others is the ultimate tribute we can pay Him. Explicitly, 1 John 4:16 makes the point: So we have known and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

What is our relationship with God, who is Love? Is He the most important relationship in our lives?

In a world that is becoming more and more materialistic, the very existence of God is questioned. We tend to rely on our expanding capabilities and on the wonders worked by Science and Technology, to arrive at the conclusion that we could get along without God, even if He did exist. Indeed, the beliefs that relate to God are as varied as the color of our skins, and as numerous as our languages and dialects. Some believe; some don`t; and many are at different stages in between. While a perfect consensus may be a long time coming, we can put on our thinking caps and revisit our pet theories to gain new insights. Would the words of Eknath Easwaran, the Indian philosopher and spiritualist, provide the insight we need? Knowing God means knowing who we really are. It means correcting the superstition that we are the product of physical and chemical forces, that our character is something we are born with, and that our destiny is something over which we have no control. It means discovering that we are not physical creatures that can be satisfied with physical gratification, but spiritual beings made in the image of God.

Sometimes it is our learning that is our undoing. The more we know, the more we need to be convinced; the more proof we want. That is why God reveals Himself in wondrous ways to the unlettered and childlike. Their innocence and faith fuse to become vessels for God`s favor. To those who clamor, that unless `Reason` is satisfied belief is baseless, Vicktor Frankl`s reason should help them re-examine their premises for logical conclusions. What is demanded of man is, not as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness, in rational terms. What we have to accept is that God and religion are not against reason, but some part of both are beyond the grasp of reason. Just like it is impossible for a five-year-old to understand atomic physics, finite man cannot comprehend an infinite God and His ways.

Who is God? The Oxford Dictionary defines God as the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the universe. Which means, there is no one above Him. He is complete in all respects - Perfection Itself. Not loving, but Love itself; not merciful, but Mercy itself; not wise, but Wisdom itself; not powerful, but Power itself. Not an iota can be added or taken away from Him.

The most endearing of God`s attributes is His limitless love. Through Prophet Isaiah, He declares:
I have loved you with an everlasting love.
If a mother should forget the child of her womb, I would never forget you.
I have carved your name on the palms of my hand, so I would never forget you.

How do we respond to such love? We don`t have to change to gain His love. His love is a given. His persuasion is simple: `Because you have my love, persuade yourself to change for your happiness. All I want is that you are happy`. God does not create to acquire something for Himself, but to give of Himself.

Why do we tend to push away such a loving God? Why do we prefer things to Him? Why do some of our relationships (the illicit ones, in particular) take precedence over our relationship with Him? There could be many reasons for our unkind behavior. I could think of a few:
 1) We want instant solutions. God who knows best will not become the genie that we wish to command.
 2) We want to be in control of our lives, not wanting to submit even to God.
 3) We enthrone in His place false gods of Pleasure, Wealth and Possessions.
 4) We imagine that He thinks like us (though He declares: Your thoughts are not Mine) and seeks
      appeasement and gratification.
 5) We lay the blame for all our misfortunes at His door.

How one-sided can our relationship with Him get? We will love Him on our terms, or not at all, when He specifies no terms at all. To our selfish minds such selflessness does not make sense. So we continue to wander in the desert of want - famished, weary, directionless - when all we have to do is ask for His plentiful mercy and the oasis of hope will appear. Even if we try to run away from Him, He will find us. That is certain. Not like the Law hunting down a criminal, but like a Father looking for a lost child.
Therefore, should we not be running towards Him?
                       God loves us - whether we like it or not.
                         (words on a fender sticker)

Relationships (Part six) - Break the big task of CHANGE into many small tasks, to accomplish each.



Relationships (Part Five) - Unless we find pleasure in the pain of forgiving and receiving forgiveness, our relationships will suffer.

Relationships (Part Four) - The choice rests with us on building or breaking relationships. We cannot absolve ourselves of the consequences that follow the wrong choices we make.

Relationships (Part Three) - In a relationship, communication is important. And in communication, attitude is paramount.


Relationships (Part Two) - My relationships will depend on making myself attractive to others and looking for goodness in them.

Relationships (Part One) - Relationships are about giving, because the measure you give is the measure you will get.