What I am about to say goes against what most people on this planet believe, but it is true: The only way to enjoy complete, lasting, and satisfying joy is to love and focus on others. instead of being selfish and doing things ‘our way’. This is a spiritual truism about which millions have found transcendence-the pinnacle of human existence.
When we seek things for ourselves that by right should not be ours, we can wreak havoc in the lives of those close to us. I saw a movie recently that illustrates the point well. “U kiss in the background…” is a title after a poem by Robert Burns “A loving kiss, and then we’ll cut…”
The film’s plot involves a Glasgow Muslim man (Casim) of Pakistani descent and an Irish-born music teacher (Roisin). They fall in love with each other. However, Casim is set to get married in 2 months and the relationship which is drenched in passion hits rocky ground. Throughout the film, the unequal relationship between Casim and Roisin ruins many people’s lives, cultural traditions, and family relationships. Casim’s parents would never accept a “goree” (a white girl) and he knows this, apart from the fact that breaking off the impending marriage casts a disgrace on the family name within the close Islamic family community.
As the story progresses and the lovers get into more trouble; lies and deceit rule them more and more, from Roisin having to duck in the car when they pass Casim’s cousin’s store, to going on vacation together without anyone else knowing: ironically, Casim tells her for the first time time to Roisin who is going to be married in nine weeks.
Meanwhile, Casim’s faithful father to the family, Tariq, is busy building extensions to the family home to accommodate Casim and his future wife, cousin Jasmine. He offers his son as much as he can afford in the home. What also complicates the family’s problem is that Casim’s two sisters have problems of their own; the youngest is quite determined not to become a doctor as her parents wish, but to leave Glasgow and study journalism in Edinburgh. Her acceptance to the university there is greeted with scorn, and in light of all these issues, she completely breaks up with her father. He sees everything he values at risk.
Roisin’s eyesight is predictable. She is almost justifiably very upset at the prospect of being ‘abandoned’ by Casim’s cousin and fights for him, putting even more pressure on the hugely tenuous issue: she has no control over the gravity of the situation and can only think of herself. . Casim wants what he wants and the rest is history. It’s a family disaster zone! It is a clash of cultures with the West morally crushing the East.
It made me shudder to think that a foolish meeting of love (or “lust”) made so many lives an absolute misery, this included ‘the happy couple’. This kind of thing crushes lives today, as today’s (and yesterday’s) generation could take it upon themselves to ‘fight for their freedom’. What freedom? Freedom at the expense of of those who love and sacrifice a lot for them! This kind of freedom comes at such a time tall Y lasting cost, but those in the thick of it, the Casims and the Roisins, simply don’t see it. The cost is high: relationships made with blood are changed and marred forever. Entire families are spiritually destroyed. The cost is lasting; once the writing is done, it can never be corrected again. The damage is done. It is a real life tragedy that happens every day many times all over the world, and this is just the example of culture shock.
Countless potential relationships and those involving children are broken every day, because of selfishness and the sin of lust. A loving kiss, and then we will part… he is frightened by danger. One silly moment, followed by a selfish pride in not wanting to deal with the pain of the issue, she sees not just two lives shattered but an entire family. This is the opposite of the true meaning of “joy.”
Going back to the original “plot” of this story, joy is the result of true humility, which could be described as disinterest. I love the way the Apostle Paul puts it:
“Therefore, if you have any encouragement to be united with Christ, if any consolation of his love, if any common fellowship in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then complete my joy by being alike, having the same love, being one in spirit and of the same mind, do not do anything out of selfish ambition or vainglory, rather, with humility, value others above yourselves, without looking out for your own interest. [alone] but each one of you to the interests of others”.
Whether Christian or not, the truth is the same. If you get something out of love, make sure you give something back. The essence of joy is in the focus, not on ourselves, but on a shift towards others. If Casim had thought of this before he got involved with Roisin, he might have taken a respectful approach with her and left it at that, knowing the potential harm that awaited both of them if they got involved together. In this sense, the joy is being in control of oneself and not having to deal with the guilt of destroying family relationships. The “real obstacle to unity is… self-centeredness”, and wanting to get away with isolating yourself from the needs of others. Egocentrism in this way is therefore weak; it is without resolution. The ‘unity in community’ is a truth from which no one can escape. Pay homage to this truth and you can achieve joy; neglect it for your death and that of your community.
The above quote effectively says, ‘if we are loved (by family), then we should love them back; be prepared to love even a little more. We are called to do something as a result of the love that is given to us, which if not through Christ, then through the love of family and their sacrifices for us. In light of this, we must be cautious and protective of who and what we love, being prepared to make the same kinds of sacrifices for our family members that they have made for us. It is fair and equitable.
© Steve J. Wickham, 2008. All rights reserved worldwide.
 This passage is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2 verses 1-4 (tniv).
 mr silva, Philippians, Baker’s Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992, 2005), p. 87.