Sunday, June 5, 2016

God's HR Department

The management of human resources has become an increasingly important concept in our culture and society.  Although human resource departments are a secular development, they represent an implicit recognition of Biblical truth: people and the relationships among them are vitally important, and sin creates personal and relational havoc wherever people live and interact.  In business, human resource departments deal with the struggles that emerge when sinful human beings work together, and policies are established to promote a constructive relational environment in which to work and also to limit the damage when sin takes it toll on that environment.

God has a lot to say about the importance of people and about the way He would like them to interact with one another.  Man was created in His image, the image of a relational three-in-one Triune God, to love Him and one another.  Not only was man created from good “stock,” but he was created to manage his Maker’s creation (Genesis 1:28) and to do those good works that He specially and specifically designed him for (Eph. 2:10).  He calls His people—the church—to manifest His claim on us by loving one another (John 13:35).  And we are taught that as the Lord does His work in us, we will be fitted together into His temple (Eph. 2:21).  It is beyond my scope here to discuss the Bible’s comprehensive treatment of Godly relationship, but I would like to offer a “shortcut” summary that I have found helpful in maintaining a Godly relational perspective.

We all associate “HR” with human resources.  I would like to take this acronym and use it as a reminder of two critically important attitudes in relationship: Humility and Respect. 

Humility is, in essence, an acceptance of who we are as creatures of the Lord of the universe, image-bearers of Christ, without attempting to artificially add to that value by self-focused efforts at performance and self-righteousness.  It is the recognition that we are sinners in need of a Savior.  Humility is not about thinking of ourselves as low, unworthy, or worthless.  It is rather about thinking correctly about ourselves.  We are God’s glorious creatures, marred by sin and selfishness, and redeemed by the blood of Christ.  There is nothing we can add to Christ’s work on our behalf.  We have no grounds to boast in ourselves.  Bond-servants of Christ have nothing to earn and nothing to prove.  I very much appreciate C.S. Lewis’s perspective on humility.  In Mere Christianity, Lewis suggests that the helpful way to avoid pride and maintain humility is to not think much about ourselves at all.  And indeed, if we are keeping our eyes on our Master, we will not have the time or inclination to focus on ourselves.

Respect is, at least in some sense, a fruit of humility.  As we bask in who we are as image-bearers of Christ and heirs of heaven, and as we accept that we cannot add to what Christ has done for us, we have no need to compare ourselves to or compete with others.  We can accept them as fellow image-bearers of Christ, we can appreciate their God-given gifts, and we can love them for who they are.  We have no need to approach from a superior or inferior position.  Instead, we can offer genuine respect that enables and encourages relationship.

Christ is our model as well as our Lord.  The Apostle Paul teaches us that Jesus emptied Himself and humbled Himself in becoming man and dying for us (Philippians 2:5-8).  And Jesus’s approach to even the lowliest and most sinful members of society manifests an incredible respect.  So as we follow our Lord and Master and internalize His humility and respect, we become wonderful administrators of God’s HR department.