zaterdag 28 maart 2015

Languages of love

Today I used an enhanced version of Chapman's love languages in the lifeskills lessons for my two teenage daughters. After our discussion I realised it may also be helpful for those who are not too familiar with the concept. So below a summary:

Chapman's proposed Five Love Languages categories are as follows:

1. Words of positive affirmation: compliment, verbal encouragement, and verbal statements of love. Written notes.

The opposite which we must avoid is unfriendly or coarse language, derogatory or demeaning language, verbal violence and language that puts the other down.

2. Quality Time: face-to-face conversation, mutually enjoyed activities, and uninterrupted time together.

The opposite which we must avoid is living apart-together, long periods of absence, spending more time with others or other things instead of together, avoiding oneanother. Superficial chitchat instead of open heart-to-heart conversations.

3. Gifts: tangible items as well as the gift of self.

The opposite is always being on the receiving end, demanding more and more or giving others more than oneanother, neglecting to give or give grudgingly or only out of duty. Give in a manipulative way such as bribing, guilt communicating, or in order to get.

4. Acts of Service: selfless deeds, domestic service, and acts of kindness.

The opposite is enslaving, using or exploiting someone. Also laziness, disinterest in helping or neglect or taking the things the other does for granted. Failing to appreciate and reciprocate selflessly.

5. Physical Touch: holding hands, massage, and sexual intimacy
The opposite is withdrawing or avoiding touching eachother. Treating physical contact as dirty or wrong. Negative labelling of physical affection.

A 6th can be added namely allowing someone his/her space/independence and freedom the opposite of which would be control/isolating someone/imprisoning someone

The underlying idea is that all of us have our preferred ways/methods for receiving and showing love, appreciation and affection. But if we don't understand this in oneanother we may not understand oneanother. One may be showing love while the other feels unloved and vice versa because we do not "speak eachothers language". Discussing these languages can be a helping starting point to remove misunderstandings, to appreciate the other's efforts more and to grow closer by learning to express love at eachothers level.

donderdag 26 maart 2015

The Christian Communalism of Equality and Brotherhood and liberty from the tyranny of materialist exploitation and dehumanization

13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

(2 Corinthians 8:13-15)

The teachings of Christ entail that the strong need to bear with the weak, the rich must share with the poor, and all must learn from Christ to be humble and gentle and use whatever talents/resources they were entrusted with for the common good. Social Darwinism which in its many forms still dominates much of Western thinking says that it is normal for the strong survive at the expense of the weak and for the rich not to share equally with the poor. After all it is the weak who are poor and it is not our fault that they are not fit, smart or good enough to look after themselves properly in the scramble for the earth’s resources. It is no wonder that many in the rich West have turned their back on Christianity or only adopt it superficially. After all it is much easier to justify one’s own greed and selfishness by apportioning blame upon the poor and the weak than to accept that Christ’s way is indeed the right way to live and take responsibility for changing our ways to His way.

dinsdag 24 maart 2015

A theology of ironing your clothes…….

I know some of you will think I am exaggerating, and maybe I do so at times to make a point. However, today this was a real issue when I was faced with a having to iron a pile of laundry. It is a chore I really don’t enjoy, partly because I suck at it and partly because I feel it’s a waste of time,

So since I discuss anything with God, I needed to discuss this also with my beloved Father in Heaven. The conversation kind of went like this: Honestly Lord ‘ironing my clothes’ is not exactly what you tell me the Kingdom of God is all about. You taught me that the Kingdom of God is about living right in accordance with the righteousness of Gods Kingdom and it is about joy and peace in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:7). God: “Yes, Erwin that is very true”, me: “That is great Lord, I am always happy when we agree :).” God: “Yes we agree that my kingdom is not about such mundane matters in themselves, but my dear child that does not mean you should not do them.” Me: “That does not make sense to me, ironing or not ironing my clothes does not add or subtract from who I am, and besides many people in other parts of the world never iron their clothes.” God: “you are right about that.” Me: “” God: “But, you are not in ‘many parts of the world’, you are now in the Netherlands.” Me: “you mean that living in accordance with your righteousness of love means I should adjust to the culture and be a Jew with the Jew and Greek with the Greek, and all things to all men so that I do not put unnecessary obstacles in their way which may hinder them from being saved? (1 Cor. 9:19-23).” God: “Now you are getting it”. Me: “But it is boring, I am not good at it and I don’t like it.” God: “doing what is good in accordance with the Law of Christ is not always nice but it is always the right thing to do.” Me: “alright, let me get on with it, I will do it for you.” God: “Now my child, that’s the Spirit - no pun intended :)”.

dinsdag 17 maart 2015

Do not treat the rich better than the poor

James 2:1-9

1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 
9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers

When people are poor, weak, dependent on aid or our good will, or if they are vulnerable in any other way this is no excuse to treat them with any less dignity than the way we treat the famous, rich and influential. Doing so is judging with evil thought-patterns guiding our judgement instead of the love of Christ. Favoritism, treating the have-s of this world better than the don't-have's is sin! The way we treat the weak and dependent shows the quality of our character. Are we people of love and kindness or selfish people who only treat well those whom are of use and benefit to them while Lording it over those who are not. Let us remember that it is often the rich who exploit and oppress the poor and treat them with contempt so why favor them above the poor? We should treat all people equally with respect and dignity.