Friday, May 22, 2015

The internal dynamics of our dilemma and God's amazing solution/offer!

Our problem isn't knowing what we should do, it's doing what we know we should. 

As a result we have these two opposing dynamics going on inside each of us which creates a deep seated conflict with a subtle but far reaching impact.

Those dynamics are:

1. We have an intrinsic understanding and awareness of what is right. The old golden rule "do to others as you would have them do to you" or "love others as you want them to love you," comes to mind. Who doesn't agree with this? Virtually every religion and ethical system recognizes this in one form or another. 

Intrinsically we also know this is right and true. It becomes most apparent when we are on the receiving end of not being treated this way. When we are not treated with dignity, value, a word, love, we feel wronged/offended. 


2. None of us has the internal strength to actually *live this way. Sure, on occasion we might, but consistently... no way. 

*we can't because we are "running on empty." We are void of the love we were designed to receive and must have in order to love others sacrificially. It's just not in us. It has to come from somewhere outside of us; from another source; a source we cut ourselves off from.

As a result of these two opposing dynamics within, and our failure to love others as we wish to be loved, we constantly go about with this deep seated, nagging sense of guilt and shame. We constantly fail to live up to what we intrinsically know is right and how we were designed, yet never carry out. 

We aren't living up to our own internally embedded standards much less the ones others try to impose on us. As a result we are always going about with this internal conflict and tension of knowing who we should be and what we should do yet never doing it consistently (though we mask it well and are rarely fully conscious of it). At a result of this conflict, deep down inside all of us is a nagging sense of worthlessness (though we are far from being worthless. For more on this click here). We can never consistently feel good about ourselves, if we base our worth solely on our efforts, because we fail to *be what we know, at a deep unconscious level, we should be.

*doing as we are designed to do only comes out of being who we were designed to be...fully connected to the source of life and love, God himself. 

Seeking relief

No wonder we are always trying to do things to prove we aren't so bad (i.e. self centered) and seek to obtain anything that makes us feel better about ourselves, if only for a moment. No wonder we are always seeking to be affirmed and recognized by others as important, special, worthwhile etc. No wonder we are offended when people treat us as unimportant/worthless and don't give us the affirmation we want and feel we deserve. 

We may not be fully aware of the conflict but we are very aware of our constant need to feel better about ourselves. At a minimum this is the conscious or "external" evidence of this deeply buried conflict.  

This conflict/tension is a constant part of our lives. We are always seeking affirmation in one form or another. We are always seeking to feel better about ourselves. We are always seeking peace, contentment, joy in one form or another. 

We are always seeking internal calm by trying to order our external world (circumstances) in such a way that we can experience this illusive sense of internal peace. Always!!!

What do we do? What can we do?! 

Well, we can distract ourselves (seek to control our environment), through a variety of means. Recreation, drugs, sex, meditation, entertainment, achievement, "beating the next guy," power, fame, money (which affords us many of the other things on the list) etc.


We can try to psyche ourselves into thinking this sense of failure doesn't really exist but is due only to an overly active imagination/conscience or part of "cultural programming"; that morality is just a myth and these feelings of guilt and shame are only in our heads. It's all subjective and not real i.e. right and wrong is not an objective reality.

So how's that working for us (you) so far? Have you found anything that gives this perfect (complete and constant) sense of total wholeness, peace, happiness, without having to constantly jump through hoops of one kind or another? Do you live consistently in a constant, ongoing state of peace and happiness etc. (Yet isn't this what we all want and seek?)

If not, why not? Is this even possible?! Yes, it is. There is an answer. And in truth it's ultimately the only answer that actually works. 

And what is that? Glad you asked! 

We can accept God's solution.

First we need to understand why this tension exists to begin with. We are made to be loved and to love others. It's part of being like his image. He gives and receives love between the Father, Son and Spirit. A relationship of love is the core of God's very being. God IS love i.e. He is relationship. It's not just what he does, it is who he is.

We are like him and made for a relationship of love so we too can experience God, who is the source of love, because he is a being of constant, never-ending, overflowing, bottomless love. 

Because of this, we will never feel truly whole unless and until we live in this love. It is who we are, how we are designed and why we were created. Knowing God and experiencing all that he is, is why we exist.  The bible states this explicitly and if we stop to really consider this, on a deep level we know intuitively this matches our experience.
But this is not all there is to us. We have rejected (and still do) this true source of love. God himself. We choose to operate on our own, with little to no acknowledgement of our need for God (who is infinite, non stop love) and now try to fill ourselves with substitutes... And think we can.  

But we can't! We are like a fish out of water experiencing enough rainfall to keep us from dying but nothing like we need to function at the level we were designed to operate.  

How can a finite being (us) use finite created things to ever fill a need for something infinite i.e. God himself? That's like putting a pint of jet fuel in the tank of a jet and expecting it to fly (we may be able to briefly fire up the engines at best).

But there is good news! 

God did this for us! Did what?! What does that mean? Christ, while on earth, loved perfectly and completely (because this is who he is and how he has always been throughout eternity past) to the point of actually sacrificing himself. 

He first loved His Father. And because he loved his Father he loved us. 

Why would he do that and how did he? 

Two ways/reasons he showed his love for us. 

1. So that we, who can't live this way, don't have to in order to have God's love. Now God offers us Christ's faithful life of love in exchange for our not living the life of love that we are created for. He did this as proof of his love for us. If we accept this, the Father credits Christ's life of love to us as if we lived this kind of life. (good bye guilt and shame over our failures to love as God deserves and designed us to)

2. And not only does God offer to credit us with this perfect life but God put the consequences of our not living this kind of life; the life we were designed to live, onto Christ. (good bye judgment, condemnation and rejection)

Now, guess what? When we recognize we can never resolve the deep seated conflict within or ever satisfy our deepest longing and then believe and accept his offer, it's done! There is no more guilt, no more shame, no more condemnation or rejection! It's gone!!! Hard to believe but it's true. And that is now our only issue; do we believe this? The more we do, the freer we are. This is God's free offer to us if we accept it. Do you accept it?

We still blow it!

But don't we still blow it? Yes, we still blow it. We still don't love as we are designed to but God no longer looks at this as a condition for extending his complete, uninterrupted love to us. If we accept his offer He sees and accepts Christ's perfect record now credited to our "account" if you will.  

This would be like us having a seriously overdrawn bank account and than someone else with an account that has an unlimited balance assigns their account over to us.  It was earned by them but out of their love for us and desire that we experience their wealth, they assigned it over and put our name on it. Not only is everything in this other account now ours, but the funds from this new account were used to zero out our overdraw account and close it.  That old account is now gone along with all it's debt. Everything in the assigned account is now ours. 

And not only so, but before God made this offer we were still his enemies. How? We opposed God by trying to be our own god and fill our need for love with God substitutes (and still do) which is not possible because it violates our design i.e. we are designed for the infinite, not the limited creation.  

It is also a lie because it says we can be who God designed us to be without him. If we are designed for infinite love  and God is that infinite love this is not only impossible but it dishonors him for who he truly is... the only source of true and infinite love and life.

This caused a rift in our relationship with God. This blocked our experience of his love for us (not his actual love) so we no longer felt it. If we have received his offer in Christ that barrier has been removed and God's love is now freely available to us. 

Once we began to see this; once this really seeps into the core of our being, we fall in love with Him and Christ for doing this for us. The more we see how antagonistic we have been and are to God and all He has done to completely remedy this, the more we fall in love with Him. What an incredible gift this is! How can we ever thank God enough? 

Glad you asked

Now that we have been freed of the obligation to give God his due honor (since Christ satisfied this for us), we are free to live this life of love he's designed us for (which also "just happens" to bring us the greatest sense of meaning and purpose since this is why we were made to begin with). 

We now are loved in such a way that when we "get it" it draws out of us a desire to love back and a trust to follow his direction (how can we not trust someone who would do all this for us). Now we have a reason to love as we were originally designed to. The love from someone else (i.e. God) we were designed to experience from the beginning has been restored back to us. We no longer live the life of love we were designed to live because we have to in order to be loved again. We now have that love we were originally designed to experience. It was secured by someone else's efforts, not ours. Therefore it is completely ours and can never be cut off or blocked again. Now we love out of love and gratitude for what God and Christ did for us and we desire to share it with others. 

We also now want to show him off (honor/glorify) to others because, for the first time, we now understand how amazing he is and now see He deserves our love and honor and that others also need this love/Him. We want to live for his honor and their good. And the way we do is to love him and others in the same way he loved us.

BUT, I can't relate to what you describe above. I am just not feeling it.

Now the truth is most don't experience this inner conflict at the conscious level and to the extent I have described above. However what we all experience is a longing for love. This we are, more or less, far more conscious of then the inner conflict mentioned above. (In fact most of us don't even experience how great this desire for love is until we "fall in love" for the first time and experience a longing we didn't know existing before then).

And if we have some success in finding love or if we have grown up in a nurturing environment due to stable and loving parents we won't know much (or at least be aware of the depth) of this conflict. But we all know what it's like to lose love in some form or another. Separation from a dear friend, spouse, loving parent or sibling due to a variety of reasons, such as relocation, death, estrangement etc should hit home for most of us. And when we do lose it, then we become aware of a longing for what was lost. The simple reality is none of us can live without love and a sense of value very long. 

All of this points to the nature of our make up and raises the question, where does this come from? How can we express a personal need for loving relationship if we came about by accident from an impersonal universe? No matter how much we try to reason away this central part of our make up, there it is, staring us in the face when we least expect it. 

Do you wish to continue on this path of longing or do you wish to turn to the path you were created for? He is calling you and extends the offer I have mentioned. Do you accept it?

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Grace to you
Jim Deal