Saturday, May 28, 2016

Expanding or shrinking?

It is in treating others as God designed them to be treated (loved, respected, honored, cherished) that we also experience all we were created to be.

We can not fully experience our value/dignity unless we treat others with dignity/value. 

We are not just recipients of God's infinite and eternal love but designed to be the givers of it as well. It is who we are and how God made us. It is when we are most complete and aligned with our design, acting according to it. 

Giving/showing love does not save us (legally...only Christ does) but it does fulfill, complete and perfect us practically as his reconciled image bearers.

Every time we do something solely for ourselves (self gratification) it diminishes us and who God designed us to be (as both receivers and givers of love). It reduces us to even less of God's image bearer than we already are (we were designed to love others, never designed to be isolated and self focused/loved).

Every time we do something for another (God first and then fellow image bearers of God) it expands us, makes us more solid (to use a CS Lewis analogy) and helps mature us and restore us back more fully to who he designed us to be i.e. God like.

We are not God

Of course we are not God and can't give what we do not have (we may be godlike but we are still dependent creatures not the independent Creator. We are still not, nor ever will be God). However in Christ we have God himself in all the fullness of his love and therefore all we need to love as God loves; we are the objects of the fullness of God's love in Christ.

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Why God sends us

God sending others to us (or us to them) in need of love is because he loves us i.e. He desires for us to experience his love more by having it flow through us to others. He desires to expand us into the person he originally designed us to be, for his glory and our joy.

Mar 12:28-31  And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" 

Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." 

Joh 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." 

Joh 15:9-12  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Feeling shame vs true guilt

Shame and guilt are often confused with each other. For us to advance as God desires, we must distinguish between guilty or shameful feelings and the actual guilt of not pursuing God as we were designed and called to.

For a child of God, shame is a totally useless disposition. Nothing good comes of it. It obscures the grace of God and holds us back from pursuing God sincerely and earnestly. It results in our trying to atone for our own sins (by wallowing in guilt, shame and self pity) when Christ has already done so (atoned for it) completely and fully. It is a form of self salvation and dishonoring to the work of Christ and the salvation he has already fully obtained and provided for us.

Admission of actual failure and real guilt on the other hand (in contrast to guilt feelings) is a very necessary and productive activity and disposition. It is the essence of repentance. It is not until we fully recognize and acknowledge our true faults and shortcomings that we see the importance and value of turning from them and looking to Christ. Lack of genuine admission and confession of faults and failures prevents us from pursuing God earnestly.


We usually think shame and guilt feelings is repentance when it's just the opposite. True recognition of guilt and the turning from it is repentance, not feelings of shame and guilt. 

We can be guilty without shame

God knows we're broken. When we mess up it's no surprise to him. Nor is there scorn or rejection by him. He has no expectations of our being what we are not, nor does he want us to pretend to be something we are not. Plus he does not need us to be a certain way to fulfill something lacking within himself. He owns all things, sustains all things and already has all things. He needs nothing. 

We often think if we beat ourselves up enough this will somehow reduce the fallout from our bad choices. God may be merciful but there are always real consequences for our disobedience. However consequences are not lessened by feelings of self condemnation and shame. We can not use shame to barter with God. There is nothing to barter for. 

If we are in Christ, we already have God's total, nonstop love and commitment to our highest good. In fact the very reason consequences are often not lessened, is so we might learn from the consequences of our disobedience i.e. for our good. Condemning ourselves does not somehow lessen the actual consequences. God allows us to experience the consequences of poor choices to get us to turn from those poor choices. 

So when we do fail what should we do? We should understand that the failure has already been atoned for and we need to move forward rejecting any and all feelings of shame and condemnation. There is no more actual condemnation for us who are in Christ and therefore neither the need to flagellate ourselves by wallowing in it.

We should move forward fully acknowledging our failure, recognizing it is a violation of our design and God's desire for us (because he loves us) and therefore harmful to us as well as dishonoring to God. This isn't an issue of God being mad at us or rejecting us; in Christ he does neither...ever! It simply means there are natural and real consequences to our poor choices that are harmful and destructive ...always! Not just to ourselves but others; as well as being dishonoring to God. We should avoid them for these reasons only, never to relieve guilt and shame.

How much of your activity ("righteous" behavior) is merely an attempt to ease guilt feelings and reduce shame? We need to identify when and where we are doing so and stop! It is dishonoring to the work of Christ and channels our energies in a non-productive direction. It is what scripture refers to as "dead works." It is a subtle means of trying to earn God's love back. Stop doing it! It's in insult to God and his love for you in Christ. 

Instead we need to honestly and bravely look our faults and failures squarely in the face, knowing they are totally and absolutely covered by the blood of Christ while at the same time knowing  they also hinder us from drawing near to God. We must turn away from them and accept the love Christ already secured for us so our life might more fully reflect the beauty of the love and grace of God.

"...For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate? Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.

So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (i.e. guilt and shame)..." - Rom 7:14-8:2

2Co 7:10  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 





Saturday, May 7, 2016

Does sin matter...part II

Yes we are totally forgiven, completely accepted and fully embraced by the Father through the work of Christ. However this has to do with our legal status and does not address the practical and destructive effects on us or others of our sinful acts and choices.

We were not made for sin (rebellious independence/distrust of God) but to honor God in a relationship of love and trust. As a result, when we sin it has a destructive effect. It not only hinders our entering into a fuller experience of God's love secured for us by Christ, it prevents us from more effectively reflecting and displaying God to others. This in turn dishonors him i.e. it does not display Him as the all loving, all sufficient and all satisfying God that he actually is.

(Unbelievers assume when his people are unfaithful, the issue is on God's side, instead of our side i.e. There is a problem with God and not with us. It's God's fault not ours. If we do not act as if he is the all loving and all sufficient God he is, than others assume he apparently must not be so).

So in the legal sense, sin does not matter and has no effect on our standing before God. We are totally and fully beloved and embraced children of God due to Christ work, not ours.

But in the practical sense, sin absolutely and completely matters and has real effect and consequences for us, others and most importantly it reflects on God himself by not bringing him the just honor and glory he rightfully deserves.

In theory we could got out and murder someone and it would not effect our legal standing with God. To say it as Paul did, "...where sin increased, grace abounded all the more..."  (Rom 5:20). There is no sin that is not fully covered by the grace of God extended to us in Christ.  

However if we did sin in this manner, scripture also says it's likely that we do not know him. Again to say it as Paul does, "... What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?" Rom 6:1-2  

We are also told by the Apostle John, " No one who is born of God practices sin (deliberately, willfully and consciously), because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." - 1Jn_3:9

So if we knowingly and habitually sin with little or no regard or concern for our sin, we should be afraid. Not because it will cause God to reject us but because it indicates we likely don't actually know him and never knew him to begin with. As Paul says, "... if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has (vs. might) passed away; behold, the new has (vs. might) come." 2Co 5:17 

"3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4  by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

5  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

10  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall." 2Pe 1:3-10 

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

21  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22  On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23  And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' - Mat 7:19-23  

Does sin matter, part I



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Some thoughts on the Trinity

The following is an attempt to summarize a discussion on the Trinity addressed in Kyle Strobels book, "Jonathan Edwards's Theology: A Reinterpretation" Edwards is considered by many to be the greatest theological mind produced in America. The book mentioned above is an overview and summary of Jonathan Edwards understanding of God as revealed in scripture. An excerpt from this book summarizing Edwards overview will help explain the comments that follow below. If you wish to see this excerpt click here

Because this book is not the easiest read I put the below summary regarding the Trinity into my own words for my personal understanding and clarity. Hopefully you will find it helpful as well. 

Describing an infinite God with finite reasoning and words is limited at best but a task worth endeavoring nevertheless. There can be no greater pursuit than pursuing the beautifully mysterious, incomprehensible, infinitely glorious, majestic, all powerful, all wise God of love. To see and know him truly is to pursue him fully. If you find the below helpful, you may wish to read his entire book.

You will note I use several words interchangeably and not always in the same order. This is deliberate in an attempt to better capture the fullness of meaning and nuances conveyed by the various words and different orders.

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·        The Son/Word (Logos Jn 1:1) is God's perfect [1]understanding of himself. 

An understanding so perfect and complete this understanding issues forth (is begotten) into a separate person as God the Son of his Father (the begetter of the only eternally begotten Son Joh 1:14;1:18;3:16;3:18 ).

·        The Spirit is God's perfect love of himself. 

A love drawn out of the Father in perfect affections for the object of that love, which is the Logos, the perfect (complete) understanding of himself.

This drawing out involves God choosing what he has the greatest affections for and is most attracted to. He is attracted to what is most lovely/beautiful as he beholds it/him or in his beholding it/him; which is the perfect understanding of himself i.e. The Logos/Word of God. 

Note: This would explain why the Bible speaks of God sending forth his Son and the Father and Son together sending forth the Spirit. Joh 17:3; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7. The Father first begets the Son (not chronologically since God is eternal but in order of succession i.e. the Father initiates). By and through the eternal union/relationship/love of the Father and the Son/Logos/Word they in turn beget/issue forth and send the Spirit.

      The Father gazes upon the Son and the Son gazes upon the Father in perfect delight. This beatific delight is so tangible and complete it issues forth (overflows) into the distinct person of the [3]Holy Spirit; the very (and holy) affection/passion of God for himself as mirrored (imaged) back to himself in/by the Word/Logos of God, the perfect/complete understanding of himself.

Note: In order for the Spirit to be a distinct and completely other person, the Logos also had to be a distinct and completely other person; each having their own unique and individual [3]understanding and will.

How we are like God and not like God

We in turn, as his created image bearers, do the same i.e. we are attracted to and have affections for what we [4]behold as most lovely/beautiful. In this way, loving and choosing (willing) are connected for both God as Creator, as well as for us who are his created (vs eternal) image bearers. To love something is to have affections for it and be attracted or drawn to it. To be attracted to it verses something else is to choose (will) it over something else. 

[4]We only are able to see God as most lovely by the Spirit revealing his loveliness to us. The very same Spirit of love between the Father and the Son. This is due to our spiritual deadness caused by our turning away from God and being cut off from the very life of God. To see spiritual things we must have spiritual life which gives us spiritual eyes. 

In a similar way as the Son and Spirit, we are unique individuals with our own understanding and will but as created image bearers (in contrast to the Logos who is the eternally begotten image bearer). Just as the Son and Spirit issue forth from God so we too issue forth from God but as created persons; not as the eternal persons of Son and Spirit.

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[1]In a sense you can say Christ is God's "self image." Of course unlike our self image, which is warped and distorted by our brokenness, Gods "self image" is perfect and complete. So much so that his "self image" issues forth into the person of his Son; the exact representation of his nature or being (Heb 1:3; Col 1:15) while also distinct from him in person. "... The Word (logos) was (equal to) God and the Word was with (distinct from) God..." Jn 1:1 i.e. The same while distinct at the same time. The same in essence/nature/being while distinct in person.

[2]The Holy Spirit is the holy breath or Holy passion (emotion) of God. A passion between the Father and Son that issues forth in the distinct person of the Holy Spirit. 

Below is the Hebrew definition for spirit. The following is a list of some of the things implied by that definition. 

1. Spirit (or spirit) in the OT has the same general definition in every instance (see definition below). This general definition has no qualifiers such as "Holy Spirit" or "Spirit of God." When these qualifiers are applied, this determines a specific meaning outside it's common use i.e. how do we know when this same word is referring to God verses man? When there are qualifiers such as "Holy","of God" or "man's spirit..." 

2. Also note in the below definition, emotions themselves are common characteristics or attributes in defining "spirit." Unlike us however, God doesn't have general emotions, such as anger, but only righteous or holy emotions. But they are still no less emotions. For example, the emotion of anger for God is a holy or righteous anger not an unrighteous one. 

3. Lastly it's worth noting that spirit in the OT is always in the feminine gender. This may be significant since the Holy Spirit is the spirit of love (relationship) between the Father and Son. It is worth noting that generally relationship is more a strength of the feminine gender than the masculine. This may also add significance to that fact that "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen 1:27). This may also help explain the differences between the genders as men tend to be more cerebral and action/production driven or oriented and women more supportive, nurturing, emotionally and relationally oriented and driven; making neither gender superior (no more than Christ or the Spirit are inferior to the Father, though certainly different in role ...The Father sends, the Son is sent). Both are necessary to convey a full spectrum of the make up of God as a being. This also corresponds with Edwards definition of what constitutes a person i.e. understand and will (emotion). 


spirit - H7307   רוּח  rûach

BDB (Brown-Drive-Briggs) Definition:
1) wind, breath, mind, spirit
1a) breath
1b) wind
1b1) of heaven
1b2) quarter (of wind), side
1b3) breath of air
1b4) air, gas
1b5) vain, empty thing
1c) spirit (as that which breathes quickly in animation or agitation)
1c1) spirit, animation, vivacity, vigour
1c2) courage
1c3) temper, anger
1c4) impatience, patience
1c5) spirit, disposition (as troubled, bitter, discontented)
1c6) disposition (of various kinds), unaccountable or uncontrollable impulse
1c7) prophetic spirit
1d) spirit (of the living, breathing being in man and animals)
1d1) as gift, preserved by God, God’s spirit, departing at death, disembodied being
1e) spirit (as seat of emotion)
1e1) desire
1e2) sorrow, trouble
1f) spirit
1f1) as seat or organ of mental acts
1f2) rarely of the will
1f3) as seat especially of moral character
1g) Spirit of God, the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son
1g1) as inspiring ecstatic state of prophecy
1g2) as impelling prophet to utter instruction or warning
1g3) imparting warlike energy and executive and administrative power
1g4) as endowing men with various gifts
1g5) as energy of life
1g6) as manifest in the Shekinah glory
1g7) never referred to as a depersonalized force

Part of Speech: noun feminine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H7306
Same Word by TWOT Number: 2131a

***Edwards proposes that the two qualities of understanding and will (will includes our affections. For more discussion click here) are the essential characteristics of what comprises a person versus say, a body. We creatures see ourselves as distinct because we have a body but God (prior to his incarnation) did not have a body, so his distinction lies (rests) elsewhere i.e. In one having their own separate and distinct self understanding and will from others.

We could say understanding and will correspond with knowing and feeling. What distinguishes one person from another is that each person has their own unique understanding (knowing) and will (choosing/feeling/affections). This too may be what distinguishes us as image bearers from other creatures/image bearers. We can know and choose God in a way other creatures can not and that knowing and choosing is our own, not those of *anyone else. 

*Maybe not even God himself in some mysterious fashion (yet at the same time all things are to, through and from him), just as the Logos and Spirit are distinct yet of the same essence as God. Only speculating of course. We may never know with certainty how these things work, at least not in this life. Than again for God to be God (infinite and unfathomable) we may never fully know. He is truly distinct i.e. He is God. We are not.   




Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fully loved...completely broken

We are fully loved and completely broken at the same time. How do we function when these both exist together within us? 

This can only happen if we are in Christ and recognize: 

·        God fully knows us as we are (there are no secrets or surprises for him even when there are for us). 
·        He completely receives and embraces us with full knowledge of all our brokenness.
·        Our brokenness always produces broken actions and consequences. 
·        God does not spare us from the consequences of our broken choices but uses them to advance us (He's bigger then our brokenness).
·        God redeems and uses everything for his glory; both our actions and their consequences.
·        God always sees and focuses on the potential he originally created us for, never on our failures.
·        God is always forward looking, never backwards looking.
·        He is always sad for us (vs. mad at us) when we fail and always rejoices when we succeed.
·        He always hurts when we are hurting. He fully feels our pain because of his own pain which he willingly and gladly experienced for us.

God always loves us, is always with us, always applauds our successes, always offers comfort in our struggles and failures (we must believe this to experience it) and always uses them to advance us.

How can all this be true?

God's love, wisdom, power and presence are not based on what we do or don't do, but on who he is and what he has done for us in and through Christ. 

"The gospel says you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared to believe, but more accepted and loved than you ever dared to hope." - Tim Keller

To the director: A praise song of David, Kind of Israel

LORD, you have examined me and you know me. You know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts. You see me, whether I am working or resting; you know all my actions. Even before I speak, you already know what I will say.  You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power.

Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding. Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I get away from your presence? If I went up to heaven, you would be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there. If I flew away beyond the east or lived in the farthest place in the west,  you would be there to lead me, you would be there to help me.  I could ask the darkness to hide me or the light around me to turn into night, but even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because you are to be feared; all you do is strange and wonderful. I know it with all my heart. When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother's womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there---you saw me before I was born.

The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began.

O God, how difficult I find your thoughts; how many of them there are! If I counted them, they would be more than the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

O God, how I wish you would kill the wicked! How I wish violent people would leave me alone!
They say wicked things about you; they speak evil things against your name.

O LORD, how I hate those who hate you! How I despise those who rebel against you!
I hate them with a total hatred; I regard them as my enemies.

Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts.

Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way. - Psa 139:1 -24




Sunday, May 1, 2016

More important, doing or being?

So which is more important, 

·        doing (faithful obedience, action) 
or   
·        being (recognizing/resting/abiding in the reality that we are infinitely valued and fully loved in Christ regardless of what we do or don't do i.e. no strings attached)

There is a tension in the Christian life between being (abiding) and doing (obedience) which is often confusing. As with any tension we tend to fall on one side or the other when both are equally true and necessary and actually connected. 

How do we reconcile these seemingly opposite realities?

On the being side

1. We are first created in God's image
  
2. We are also a beloved child of God (if we are in Christ).

This is the status of our being or existence in Christ. It is something that was done for us not by us. 

To flesh out these two key aspects more fully:

  • BEING
1. Before Christ:

We are someone valued by God first by virtue of being his image bearer (we possess the capacity to reflect and display his infinite worth unlike anything else in all of creation). This is something about us he loves even before he adopts us as his child and places us in Christ.

Since he loves that which is most lovely, namely himself, he loves those creatures who also have the greatest capacity to best reflect his love back to him and display him to others. This has nothing to do with anything we do and is true before we are adopted as his child in Christ. This has everything to do with our being who he made us to be; like himself, in his image (marred for sure but still bearers of his image, nevertheless, with the capacity to reflect him in a way the rest of his creation can not. Not even angels).

2. In Christ:

If
 we are in Christ, adopted as his child, we are also someone loved by God (without us doing anything to cause that love) to such an extent he took on our pain and suffering so we might reenter into and participate in his glory and joy as his image bearer (similar to how we participated in his life and glory before the fall/rebellion).

We not only have the capacity to display his infinite worth to others by virtue of being like God (in his image) but in fact can again and do now display his glory as his adopted child by his Spirit. God is now in us and for us, not against us.

This is who we are before Christ and in Christ. These two have to do only with our being (who we are), not our doing. 

  • DOING
Once we are in Christ, we are to love as Christ loves i.e. sacrificially. Our "doing" does not add to our "being" (i.e. make us any more his image bearer [thought it certainly makes us more like him in behavior] or his beloved child any more than we already are in Christ) but springs forth from it and is the expression of it. We love sacrificially because we were and are loved sacrificially.

However, we can not do as were created to (empowered by his love, life and Spirit), until we know (in the fullest sense, not just cognitively) who we are (being) first. We can not "do" in our own strength but in the strength we receive in knowing we are ("be") infinitely loved by God no matter what and designed to reflect him like nothing else can. This is the nature of our design (how we are suppose to operate) from the beginning and is still true. 


Experiencing our BEING in DOING

Now here is where there is significant confusion. Doing and being have a direct connection and merger. 

It is hard to keep the distinction while at the same time make the connection. 

It is also hard to make the connection without loosing the distinction.

We can not fully experience who we are (being) unless and until we live out (do) who we are (be).  

You may wish to pause and read this last sentence over a couple of times to let it sink in. 

Participating in who are (and were created to be), as empowered by the love/Spirit of God, is to fully enter in and experience who we are created to be.

Doing is the means by which we fully participate in and engage who we were created to be and who we now are in Christ. Who we are in Christ is a matter of being. In other words, we can not fully experience subjectively all we are (objectively) without acting out and upon who we are objectively. Granted this is an act of faith i.e. believing and fully recognizing we are (being) who God says and acting (doing) accordingly. 

Yes we are still broken but we are also in God's image and as his redeemed child, now indwelt by his Spirit, which, when fully participated in by faith, is a far more significant part (when we fully recognize/believe it) of who we are than our fallen condition. It is in fact the final word. 

This is not something we will necessarily feel before we act but once we act in this way (by faith, regardless of feelings) we enter into and participate in who we are (an infinitely loved image bearer and child of God), in a way we won't without acting/doing (our brokenness is no longer an issue as far as God's love and desire to work in and through us. In Christ, this is a given. He is committed to us in love and will never back away. Why? Because it's based on Christ's efforts not ours). 

But this is still an act based on who we are (being) and not doing without first being. Not a doing to become someone, but a doing because we are someone infinitely love in Christ.  

In other words, we may not necessarily feel we are loved or valued by God, but we act simply because God says we are and we believe his assessment because of who he is (the fully trustworthy, wise, powerful and loving God).  Again, the connection is we act by or out of faith in who God is and says we are and not how we feel. Why?

1.      He created us in his image
2.      He has declared us his fully beloved child [proving this by sending Christ for us]... 

Therefore he cherishes us whether we feel it or not, whether we view and cherish ourselves in the same way. We are simply called to believe God in his assessment of us. Christ's work on our behalf is our proof. Sending us his Spirit to live within us is our confirmation. It is also the power by which we live out this love. 

We act based on his evaluation, claim and promise, not necessarily on our experiencing any sense of that love. 

Even if and when we do have a sense of his presence, this itself is the result of faith i.e. the more we believe we are loved the more loved we may actually feel (though this isn't necessary to act. It simply helps make the action easier). Nevertheless our action is based on faith in who we are (who God has declared us to be), not necessarily our experience/feeling of who we are.

This is in fact the very order and truth brought forth in the greatest commandment.

Mar 12:28  And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" 29  Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  30  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31  The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Though it isn't directly stated,  it is implied that the love for God is rooted in and springs forth from knowing God as he truly is. The expression "Hear, O Israel" is the equivalent of saying, listen up, pay attention and recognize who this great God is. He is the one and only God and he alone. There is no one else. In the original quote in Deut 6:4, the word for LORD is Yahweh. He is the "I AM"; the self existent one. This implies he needs no one. The commandment to love him that follows is a response to knowing this about him i.e. that he is the all sufficient God.  He is the God who loves simply because he is love and is lovely, not because our love is needed by him or earned from him. If we truly know God as the all sufficient, all loving God he is, we will love him with everything we are and have.

In short, to fully experience all that we are, we must act by faith upon the reality of who we are as declared by Him. And who he says we are is rooted in the belief that he is who he says he is. This is the essence of what Paul declared in his doxology at the end of Romans 11. 

Rom
11:33  Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 
Rom 11:34  "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" 
Rom 11:35  "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" 

Rom 11:36  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. 

Another reason experiencing who we are comes in and by doing, is it involves an order of priority. In order to do we must first be but if we only receive without giving out we become spiritually fat and lethargic and never become all God intents i.e. like God who is always flowing his love out to others. God's intent is not that we simply and only be (loved) but that we are (loved) for the purpose of loving/doing (love others as we are loved). This is why the second part of the greatest commandment is tied to and follows or flows out of the first. He created us to not just receive his love but to share it, give it outAs (in the same way) the Father has sent his Son, so he sends us.

·        Verses that indicate doing flows from being.

Joh 14:12  "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me (being) will also do the works (doing) that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
In a sense believing is a kind of doing (work), but not an outward act as we normally considering doing but an inward disposition that requires great effort i.e. it's hard to believe we are loved when we don't feel we are loved or when we experience hardship and pain. 
"Abide (be) in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit (do) by itself, unless it abides (is/being) in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide (be) in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides (is/being) in me and I in him, he it is that bears (does) much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." - Joh 15:4-5

·        Verses that indicated experiencing who we are (being) is the fruit of doing.

(GNB) Joh 13:17  Now that you know this truth, how happy you will be (who we are - i.e. our being) if you put it into practice (doing)!

(ESV) Joh 
13:17  If you know these things, blessed are you (who we are - being)  if you do them (doing).

"Whoever has (a state of being) my commandments and keeps (does) them, he it is (being) who loves me (demonstrates love by doing loving acts). And he who loves me will be loved by my Father (subjectively enter into the experience of God's objective love secured by Christ), and I will love him and manifest myself to him (subjectively experience God's presence/caring)."  

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?"

Jesus answered him, 
"If anyone loves me (is in my love), he will keep (do) my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. " - Joh 14:21-23 

On the surface this sounds like God's love (objectively) for us is dependent on our obedience. But this can not be, based on other passages. These passages are talking about our experiencing his love (subjectively), not the objective and fixed reality of being the objects of his love or being fully loved by him.

We see this with Christ himself. Christ says, " If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. " Joh 15:10 

Was the Fathers love for Christ a reality prior to Christ incarnation and Christ's subsequent obedience? Did Christ earn his fathers love by his obedience?

Not in the strict sense. The love between the Father and Son existed from all eternity past. The Father has always loved his Son and never stopped loving him at any time during the incarnation; even while he poured out his full wrath for our disobedience on him.

But there was a sense in which the Father's love was experienced by even Christ through Christ's obedience (obedience being the fruit of faith/abiding). God's love for his Son is a fixed objective reality. But this is not the same as Christ's subjective experiencing and participation in that love. Read the verse again. 

Christ says, " If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide (trust, rest and fully participate) in his love. " Joh 15:10 

Christ entered into and fully participated in (experienced) his Fathers love as a man through his obedience. Obedience is the fruit if faith.

What Christ's obedience did was prove his love for his Father i.e. it was the evidence of his love. And by Christ's acting out of love for his Father, he entered into and experienced that love in a way he could not have without obedience. 

"Whoever does not love me does not keep (do) my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me." - Joh 14:24 

"...but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know (as evidenced by my obedience) that I love the Father..." - Joh 14:31 

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide (be) in my love.  If you keep (do) my commandments, you will abide (be) in my love, just as I have kept (do) my Father's commandments and abide (be) in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." - Joh 15:9-11   

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear (do) fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.   These things I command you, so that you will love one another." - Joh 15:16 

Joh 16:27  for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me (do) and have believed (be) that I came from God.

1Jn_2:5  but whoever keeps (do) his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 

perfected: τελειόω, teleioō

Thayer Definition:

1) to make perfect, complete
1a) to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end
2) to complete (perfect)
2a) add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full
2b) to be found perfect
3) to bring to the end (goal) proposed
4) to accomplish
4a) bring to a close or fulfillment by event
4a1) of the prophecies of the scriptures