From nucleus - winter 1999 - Editorial [p1]
Western culture assures us that freedom is found in doing what we want when we want. Personal autonomy is absolute. But why do we have such a strong desire for self-determination? Perhaps we are influenced by bitter past experiences, fearful that others may be incompetent or may manipulate us to their own advantage. However, if we knew that someone in authority cared about us and was able to make far better choices than we could make for ourselves, we would gladly submit. We would be foolish not to! Clearly, it is the person we obey that is all-important.
God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is benevolent and loving, and is always concerned for our good. He is therefore entirely trustworthy. Furthermore, God is not a distant totalitarian ruler, but is intimately involved in the lives of his people. Despite our selfish rebellion against him, he longs for each one of us to know the true freedom that comes from obedience to his perfect will.
In this issue of Nucleus Helen Roseveare explains how the Lord maintains our spirituality as we submit to his will and serve him (see 'Maintaining Spirituality'). Without a growing dependence on our compassionate heavenly father our communities break down. In our own strength we are unable to love each other. Instead, we may mistreat our neighbours. In 'Racism in Medicine?' Ranti Atijosan takes a look at one result of our disobedience, and suggests how we can bring about change in our society.
The cross is central to understanding our privileges and responsibilities. The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life'. In his death Jesus Christ demonstrated both his love for the Father and his obedience to his father's commandments (Jn 14:51). In the same way, our obedience to God should be both a response to love and an expression of love. Out of thankfulness for the future he has secured for us, we are called to forgo our own rights, and to serve and obey our Lord. Perhaps my old school motto is worth heeding after all.
'My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends' (Jn 15:12-13).