It’s a beautiful thing to fall in love; all that adrenalin, the silliness, the romantic feelings and the dreams. “Come on, sweetheart, let’s just run away into the sunset and forget everything else!”
That’s one side. However, when you love someone, you also have to make a choice: I love this one and not any other. Love says “yes” to one person, and “no” to billions of others who could have been potential love partners. Imagine a young woman who has a number of male admirers. One day she declares: “I take Willy, not Billy”. From that day on, Willy is all happy – but Billy is all fumes.
God knows this love-matter better than any of us. He is the very source of love; and he is a lover too. One day, long time ago, he went out to look for a girl, and finally declared: “Israel, my love!” That should have made Israel whooping with joy and dancing on the streets for years. That’s one side. But how did that sovereign choice of God, – “I love whom I love!” – make the other nations feel? “OK, Israel was now chosen, but what about us, the Non-Israelites? Why are we, the Edomites, Amalekites, Stalagmites, Samsonites and the rest of all knights not chosen – but some other nation?”
This is when rejected love can turn sour. It turns into hatred and envy. The nations sulk and are jealous! They say: “God loved this other folks, not us. Can you believe it?! Does God not know that we are the very best people on the planet, even good-looking, ethical, humorous and more? Is he blind? Because if God would have asked us – ‘Hey guys, whom do you think I should choose as the love of my life?’ – we would have had the right answer: ‘Well God, that’s obvious: it’s us!’ But God did not ask us. He did not even take a democratic vote for whom to love. He just got up one day and followed his own feelings. ‘No, no, no, he should not have done that. Now we will make him suffer for that!” – That is the silly tune of rejected love, turning into sour jealousy.
If God would still not waver in his choice and hangs on to Israel in his love, we would not only reject this “unjust” lover, we would also reject his choice – Israel! Seeking to look good ourselves, we start to make others look bad. Trying to elevate ourselves, we start to put down others. We would point out all the weaknesses in “that nasty other girl”; magnify every pimple and spot on the other girl, while we would post photoshop-ed portrait, and manipulated fake effigy of ourselves on facebook, and click the like button ourselves like crazy.
When rejected love turns into sour jealousy, it is just one small step short of getting us onto a very steep and slippery slide carrying us down into one gloomy, sulky storeroom that reeks of – “fish”. A very particular kind of extremely smelly fish – Sel-fish. If we end up there, in the Selfish storeroom, there is only one true escape. We need to come to the point to discover and excitedly accept that God loved even us, gave his son Jesus to us as an expression of his amazing love, also for us who sit in the hole and brew jealousy! God never rejects us, he gave up his son Jesus even to death! And he rose up again and overcame death with life, jealousy and hatred with love. Therefore, in this very power of Christ, we can do the unimaginable as well: we can deny and crucify our own smelly, fishy self that wants to be the center of the universe, and overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit, the greatest anti-kingdom gravitational power that exists in this world: selfishness. In my words, slightly corrupting Matthew 6:33: Seek and you shall reek. “Seek you first the elevation of self – and you shall reek.
Without mincing words, James says it like this: “If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition … it’s of the devil …where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice…What causes fights and quarrels among you? Do they not come from the selfish desires that are at war from within you? You desire and do not have – so you kill!” (James 4)
In other words: if you eat too much from this fish – the Selfish – it makes you mad. It brings your blood to such a boil that it makes you ready to even kill. It’s deadly, demonic poison. It turns even a harmless you into a bloody murderer, ready to smash anything and anyone that does not love your amazing but sadly uncrowned majesty, your royal highness, your excellence – yourself.
The Greek word for “selfish desire” is Hedonism. It is a silly but pretty universal philosophy that says: only what does me good really is good. The pursuit of a hedonistic life is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain for one reason only: self. Self becomes the true God we serve. And this is how self becomes elevated into an idol, pushing even God from his throne and placing a stupid, smelly fish on his place. This fish even has developed a religious mantra that it requires you to say or hear at least 100 times a day: “Have fun!” Because, if we are not loved, then let’s at least love ourselves and drown the whole sorry story in an orgy of fun; dose ourselves with tons of perfume, deodorants and other smelly substances we spray, roll, paste or paint onto our bodies with one goal: overpower that nasty foul fish stench that just does not want to go away. Why? Because the stench of Selfish comes from the heart, not from all those other odorous, unmentionable places of our body.
Folks, we need to see through this demonic scam. Rejected love, turns sour and breeds envy and jealousy. This envy then, if not corrected by the love of Jesus, leads us to love ourselves selfishly; usually overdoing it. And this concludes the demonic recipe for universal disaster at every level. It is an atomic bomb for every marriage, family, clan, church, organization, nation. That’s the real story why there is no peace in the Middle East, that’s the hidden story why Jews and Muslims are at each others’ throats, and why misguided Christians think that their particular denominational group, the one out of 41,000 is the chosen one, while all others probably should and also will go to hell.
Remember, the whole thing started with God’s age-old choice whom he loves and whom not. But since Jesus, we all are now loved; we all are invited to be part of the Bride of Christ; we all have a lover that passionately pursues us and makes our head and heart silly with joy. That is why we need to get that fish out of our heart and replace it with the selflessness that shows the fruits of being unconditionally loved first by God himself. And that is the recipe for true peace, reconciliation, partnership, joy.
So let’s fish the Sel-fish out of our own hearts. And then, go fishing in the sea of mankind.