Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meditation 2: The Great Separator

There is a scene in L.A. Confidential where Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) is hammering Sid Hudgins (Danny Devito) with his fists. Then, Dudley Smith drops this pearl, "Reciprocity Boyo! It's the key to human relationships." Indeed! Reciprocity seems like the natural fuel for human relations. If we keep careful record of rights-and-wrongs then we each have incentives to keep doing right. Reciprocity also seems symmetric. But, in such an environment we must ask, "Where is love? Where is grace? Where is forgiveness?"  

But reciprocity is not the only ingredient in human relationships. Empathy has also been an important fuel for human relationships. Consider the fact that many cultures have had something akin to the Golden Rule, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31). In fact, Wikipedia cites numerous examples throughout history which seem to consider the welfare of others.

The meditation, or what we shall call "The Great Separator", is about what separates Christian thought from the reciprocity and empathy that has been practiced by other cultures. Jesus teaches us an important and radical lesson in the Sermon on the Mount:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

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