“True neighborliness, as Jesus conceived it, was an overflow from the fullness of life consequent upon the personal quest for God. True self fulfillment results in men whose efforts produce a by-product which benefits their fellows without injuring them.” The Libertarian Theology of Freedom Pg 81 by Edmund Opitz
The two greatest commandments that are a summary of the Ten Commandments are to love God with your whole person and love your neighbor as yourself. The important part of those commandments is the ‘love your neighbor as yourself.” How do we love ourselves? We provide services and gifts to ourselves in a way that will bring perceived prosperity and happiness.
The call to love God without our own being is a higher calling than loving as we love ourselves because loving God with our whole being is not actually possible, it is an aspiration. The second highest calling behind this, though, is our love for yourself. The call to love yourself is not based on potentially giving our whole person mind, emotions and body like we are called to with God, but instead, it is actually happening in real time. We are accomplishing loving yourself, if we were not, it could not be commanded by God for us to love others like we love ourselves.
Christian Hedonism and True Neighborliness
This is where I will take the liberty to speak on my favorite subject in the whole world, namely Christian Hedonism. Christian Hedonism is best summarized in this saying, ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied (fulfilled) in Him.’ At the core of this phrase is not that God is easily grasped and our desire for Him is easily quenched in our hearts, but instead, that satisfaction and pleasure in the midst of a pursuit of a relationship with God is infinite and unlimited in potential. It is so unlimited that we will never reach the end of it, even after billions of millennia in eternity. To put it another way, me being unquenchable in my ceaseless search to find fulfillment in God is a never-ending one, but it does not bring me to despair and exhaustion; quite the contrary, it is the grounds of why I was created by God in the first place. When I am doing that purpose of being satisfied in God and all that He has placed in my life as a testing and a blessing, I am overflowing, as the quote from Edmund says.
As God’s creatures made in His image, we were meant to seek Him out. To return to the quote,
“True neighborliness was an overflow from the fullness of life consequent upon the personal quest for God.” Edmund Opitz page 82
As we can see, the way it works is as we “quest” for God, we are living “the fulfilled life.” If we use the analogy of a cup, we are overflowing with fulfillment. The overflow form that overly full cup spills over in abundance to my neighbors. (Side note: this overflowing is actually the reason the trinity created the world in the first place. It’s pretty amazing to feel that same kind of overflow and blessing in one’s own spirit that was the same motive for the creator deciding to create a material personal world in the first place, have fun meditating on that!)The reason why my cup started to fill up with satisfaction was that it was primarily a self-oriented desire for fulfillment first and foremost.
I could have been “contented” or “apathetic” and thus desired to stagnate my cup like an old stagnant pond, but I would be a bad neighbor because I would be improperly filled myself, thus needing overflow from a true neighbor to help me out of my weakness. A true neighbor first sets upon themself to compete like an athlete to continue to desire God in all of life. An Olympic level athlete does not stop improving his craft when he is the best at that craft out of the people he knows, nor does he stop when he is the best person in his country. He will only be somewhat satisfied when the gold medal is hanging around his neck, but even at that, he is the best and must beat himself. Men like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt were such men; thus, why they were able to get numerous gold medals.
To go farther than anyone else who has gone before me should be our creaturely desire. Once we get to eternity, this will be our primary goal. Yes, we will do things to provide for ourself, but the biggest difference from then to now is we can fully see Christ for who He is, and we are no longer hindered by sin. From this abundance, the next layer or fruits of true neighborliness occurs, the overflow onto others for the glory of God and the satisfaction of our souls. Are we “wasting” abundance? If we are wasting it, then God is wasting it. He is the grand fountain, we are fountains under his fountain being filled up and overflowing to others. We have nothing in ourselves. This is why Edmund says that the foundation of our true neighborliness is how far we go in our personal quest for God. Overflowingness leads to my “efforts producing a by-product, which benefits (my) fellows without injuring them.” (Edmund Opitz p81) Unfortunately, socialism breaks the rules of true neighborliness and is thus false neighborliness.
False Neighborliness and Socialism
The logic or rule of true neighborliness states-
“one’s fellow man. . . is included in the purposes of the eternal, and hence is a creature of infinite worth and dignity. . . (Therefore) one needs to refuse imposing his own will on another, and resist the imposition of an alien will over his own.” (Edmund Opitz pg 79)
On the other hand, socialism says that everyone should have the same fiscal abundance as everyone else, even if they are not worthy of it in their skills or knowledge. They envy/covet what their neighbor has. They are not content with the fact that God gave them one talent and their neighbor ten. Socialism rewards those who are content to live on almost an empty cup of value and satisfaction and is forced to injure those who are overflowing against their will coercively. They look outside themselves for fulfillment instead of taking the responsibility to self-fulfill. They have not worked for fulfillment but demand it because it is not fair. Ironically, it is not fair for those who are worthy of much to have it stolen and given to another. They are stealing the overflowing one’s ability to overflow to their neighbor voluntarily. Fair is for people to get exactly what they have worked for and deserve. This alone is fair, and wanting someone else’s abundance for yourself is the truly “unfair” thing. Socialism is a false neighborliness. It does not teach the children to share willingly; it just takes from one and hands it to another.
The free market calls everyone to pursue their own potential satisfaction and prosperity in a way that suits them. Thus, governing oneself is the first means in planting a tree that bears fruit to be enjoyed by one's neighbors later. It is unjust to receive a “gift” from the state that was coercively taken from those who earned their abundance. It is clearly false neighborliness to steal from those who are overflowing. It does not allow the overflowing ones to give from their overflow in a creative and helpful way.
Examples of people who gave them their fiscal abundance in the past few generations are: J.P. Morgan Chase, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. These men are among the richest men of all time, yet they all reached a point where they realized they had the abundance and, therefore, the means to give back to helping people in the future who would inhabit this world after them. You can look up how these men and many others have given and are still giving their money and time in overflow. Financially, they have outdone any others in being the grandest of true neighbors.
In order to keep you from thinking of merely emotional/spiritual satisfaction or fiscal satisfaction since we mainly talked about those two categories of generosity in true neighborliness, allow me to bring up some other kinds of true neighborliness in the world. Other forms can be an overflow of: creativity, innovation, exploration, discovery, talent, skill, building of all kinds, and writing/sharing of ideas. You might think of other forms of true neighborly overflow that you could give to others.
One example that the man I have been commenting on, Edmund Opitz, gives is about a true neighbor to the Christian faith, John Bunyan. In his work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan is only second to the Bible in the quantity of copies sold and languages translated into. One would think he wrote the book for the benefit of others while he was sitting in jail for years under persecution.
Check out his own words on why he wrote this hugely impactful book.
“John Bunyan made no pretense of writing his ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ for the benefit of his fellows. In the Apology for the work he wrote ‘. . . Nor did I undertake thereby to please my neighbor, no, not I. I did it myself to gratify.’ But he created a masterpiece, which still enriches millions of human life.” (Edmund Opitz, The Libertarian Theology of Freedom pg 81)
Tim Bankes II
Tim is a Christian author. His worldview that informs his writing is Calvinist, Baptist, and Libertarian. His main series is his Christian picture book series, "About God for Kids", where he discusses the attributes of God in a way kids can digest. He also wrote a Christian Romance novel, libertarian book for beginners, and Christian coloring books. He graduated with a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He has written a book on freedom called “Are You Free” (If you are into listening to books I have it in audio also, Are You Free Audiobook )and he has written multiple children’s books about God. Be Sure to check out the podcast version of the blog, Labor for Truth Podcast. And check out “The Truth About” Youtube Channel. You can find his works at his amazon author page, https://amazon.com/author/timbankes. He even has a free digital ebook on how God is the creator. Get your free copy today at, Greater Creator .Also If you are into Christian Fiction, he has made his first book in his Futuristic Christian Fiction series free, Her Dying Wish