The best a man can be…

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I swallowed hard when I read this passage this afternoon.

No man can be anything other or better than this–one who is loved by God. This is what God wills with him–to love him. And this is what He wills from him–to allow himself to be loved by Him. It is for this purpose that he elects him.

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, II/2, 411.

The term Barth uses here is Kein which means, “no one” and is not meant to single out “males” per se. Yet it struck me that we men especially (but women, too) would do well to remind ourselves daily that the best a man can be is to be loved by God. We Christian men are so prone to think of the significance of our lives in terms of accomplishments, by our service, or our vocation, or even as fathers and husbands.   But as important as all of these may be, they pale in significance to the fact that we cannot be better than this–to be loved by God. If we realized that daily, I suspect our lives would radiate gratitude and grace to those around us.

I just read a few nights ago one of the great short stories by Flannery O’Connor called “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”  That is so very true, isn’t it? But taking a cue from Barth, a good man, indeed, the best man one can find is one who allows himself to be loved by God. That is why Jesus is the best a man can be…For he knows and understands fully what it means to be loved by God.

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3 thoughts on “The best a man can be…

  1. I’m not sure where Barth would go with this, but it seems to me the concept of love and the act of love are inseparable. We know ‘love’ as we experience ‘love’. We love another as we act toward another. To be loved by God is to experience God’s act toward us, most poignantly in Jesus Christ. That of course takes us back to election in Christ does it not?

  2. Bill, absolutely. Or more fully, the individual elected is elected to a community which is the community of the elected Jesus Christ.

    The section from which this quotation is taken goes on to show how God’s love is shown in Christ. “He cannot be or become anything greater, nor can he at any point be or become anything other than again and continually the one who is loved by God, loved in His own Son who bears the nature even of his flesh, loved as a member of His body, in the fellowship of the many who also have it as their determination to be loved by God in Him.” (CD II/2, 412).

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