"better understanding my social environment", "grid of interpretive categories", "living more freely", "making decisions consistent with godly morality", "needs and resources", fear, love, power, truth
As I continue down several of life’s paths simultaneously, by now I have what I call my grid of interpretive categories. This grid helps me understand not only what I do, but what others, both individuals and groups, do. In this post I only have space to introduce them, but even that will help explain where I am in this journey of life with Jesus.
Power – I see the exercise of power everywhere, and usually it is not pretty. I got into this issue well over 30 years ago, when asked to lead a church retreat in another country. In a summary fashion, what is involved is not complex, although its extension in life is vast.
I have needs of many kinds; I have resources of various kinds. Other people are in the same situation. To the degree that my resources can satisfy their needs I have power over them. To the degree that their resources can satisfy my needs, they have power over me. This dynamic is present in all human relationships – family, churches, colleges, all levels of government, businesses, – all of human life.
Although we have power, seldom is it used virtuously. Almost always, power is exercised in function of personal plans, hopes, desires, etc., taking advantage of our resources vis a vis other’s needs to get from them something they would not do otherwise.
Love – This is the antidote to power, where some other person’s well being becomes the driving force of my behavior. This is how God loves, why Jesus died, and what the Holy Spirit is creating in us. When the well being of the other is what drives me, I am freed from abusing power.
Truth – This is the condition pertaining when our statements correspond to what actually (truly) is, and not to only what we believe, but what we know is the case. Anything can be believed. Much less can be known. Action based on belief may turn out profitable. Action based on knowledge will turn out profitable. It is truth that sets us free, not opinions, not speculations, not even blind belief.
Fear – This is an unavoidable element in this 4 part grid of interpretive categories. We simply live with it, because we live with the reality that at any time our sources of pleasure will be eliminated, and without our pleasures we (speaking generically of humanity) have lost our reason for living. We live in fear of “losing” something of value.
Many years ago, I ran across the expression that eventually in most people’s life they come to the point where their income ceases to depend on what they have to say to be acceptable by others. In other words, they are made aware of how much they have lived in fear when it is too late to change any of the past.
This is my grid. With it I examine myself. Through it I view and interpret others. To the degree I take advantage of these four categories for understanding life, I live better and more freely, better understand my social environment , and better trust the Lord for spiritual abilities to make decisions consistent with godly morality.
I hope the grid may help you.