Friday, Jan 10, 2020. Humans are social beings. We all know it. We need each other and we cannot live without each other. We grow up in a family, and we need the nurturing and support to be able to live at all. For years we need our parents to feed us and to protect us.
But it is more. Humans are relational beings. That means we define ourselves by others, which we take as reference. We compare ourselves to others. We live in a framework of relations to others. Where do you stand in a group? This includes friendship, companionship, parentship, but also competition, rivalry and contest.
Parentship and Support …
Humans long for parentship. We long for a father and a mother to accompany us, to protect us, to support us, to love us. Children are usually admired by their parents, they are loved by their parents. Parents are excited about the progress of their kids. For kids the excitement of the parents is an important input and motivation. But more than that: kids need this support to be able to live. Kids need the admiration to get the push they need to develop their character and skills.
Kids also need protection. We need it, since otherwise the threats and danger of this world will kill us. Without protection, we cannot live and grow up. We also need protection in the later stage of our life. And usually, societies organize their protection. It is one of the key role of the family in the first place, the extended family, but then the social environment, society as a whole, the town and state.
When we grow up, it is an important task for us to take over responsibility ourselves. We become mothers and fathers ourselves. We obtain some responsibility for our social environment. We take part in the role to protect, to be parent and supporter for our own kids and for the younger and older members of our society.
The Lord as Protector …
The biblical text tell us that humans need more than just the human companionship. We need more than just our social relationships. We need God, the Lord, the heavenly father. To become fully human, humans need the heavenly father to be their father, to get into a relationship with him which is often called to become “a child of God”.
God wants to be our protector. He wants to be the center and relevant source and target for our activities. In him, there is massive freedom. In him, there is the support and admiration and love we desire. Partnership and support of humans and the partnership and support by the eternal God are complementary in the sense that we most need the Lord, and that with the Lord in our heart all other relationships are balanced and can fall into place.
Protection by the Lord is a challenging topic, since it does not mean that we are completely free of suffering. And it is realized through and in a very concrete human environment. We can study the history of Israel in the Old Testament to understand more about how God acts in the middle of a difficult historical situation.
Further, there is an important situation talking about protection. Matthew 4 tells us the story where Jesus is tempted by the devil with respect to God's protection. Let us listen to this:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4, 6-7)
God wants to be our helper, our guide, our protection. At the same time that does not mean that we should be inactive. He has given us a mind and a body to act, in faith and responsibility, in truth and love and mercy. When we ask him, he can show us wise steps which will lead to protection of our life as far as this is possible in the framework of a “fallen world” - keeping in mind the full framework of our life as we have been discussing it in the past days. (Roland Potthast)
This is part of the trilogy project “Faith of a Scientist”.