Q&A: From negative to positive relationships?

Question: Through your Daily Bread Bible verse on May 8 (John 5:24), you commented, “We have passed through an existence burdened with negative relationships (death), into real, substantive, and limitless positive relationships with God and everyone else.” Can you explain this further?

Answer:  In a one-dimensional world (physical only, time only) world, we are either dying (not getting what we want) or living (getting what we want) in constant competition with others trying to do the same thing.  Imagine 100 people drowning in the same space. In that worldview, “life” is collapsed into physiology and its appetites; “death” is expanded to mean any and all failure to gratify oneself.

A three-dimensional worldview changes all that. First of all, the essence of life or death is not physical or physiological, but comprehensive and relational: “life” = positive relationships with God, nature, and neighbor; “death” = negative relationships. Second, because our soul is eternal and regenerated in the image of Christ, we realize that our physical life in time is given to us to be given away for the sake of others.  I used to think I was dying when not getting my way but others were; they were against me and they were “winning.” Now I can see that the more at enmity another person is against me, the greater the realization of what loving such a person means. What human experience could be more powerful and significant than sacrificing the time and desires of my human nature for the benefit of my neighbor or enemy? This is why Paul wanted to preach nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. In the Gospels, we see Jesus doing just what I described—spending His human nature freely to restore positive relationships for people.  He was healing, feeding, raising the dead, and most of all, forgiving/regenerating. Love is what reaches through the negativity of another person to that person’s soul to change/regenerate it.

This theology is logical as well, given a three-dimensional worldview. If our body is perishing anyway (over time), why not make it meaningful by using my time and physical existence to reach the eternal souls of others?

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