Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Loving ourselves… part II

More and more we hear talk about loving our self. Why? My observation (personal and of others) is this comes from a deep, often unconscious, sense of feeling unloved. 

When you know you are truly and deeply loved, you rarely think about being loved any more than you think about eating right after a very large, satisfying meal.

The truth is we all have a deep sense of feeling unloved simply because we are disconnected and separated from our Creator; the source of love and of *life itself. However this sense will be more or less exaggerated and felt depending on how much love we did or did not receive from our family of origin.
*though we still have access to and use of created things using them as substitutes (which includes other creatures i.e. animate and inanimate).
Folks usually resort to self love because they have been deeply hurt or let down by others and no longer trust others to come through for them. They believe they can only trust themselves, so this is where they go for love. 

Because of the breakdown of the family unit and the support system it gives there is an increasing number of children experiencing this deep sense of missing love, resulting in increased efforts to self-love. The greater the breakdown, the greater the effort. Hence the rise in the appeal and allure of self-love and the age of the "selfie."

The challenge however is when all is said and done, we were designed for infinite love. A finite being (yourself and others) can never give you infinite love i.e. an infinite need can never be meet by a finite solution. Only infinite love will do.

Loved well...or not

When a child is loved well (consistently) by parents who are loved well (because the parents have a strong sense of love from their Creator) and the parents clearly acknowledge to their child the reason they love well is because of God, the child will easily transfer their sense of love and trust from their parents to God when they grow up to live on their own.

The beauty of God's love is even if and when someone does not receive healthy love and support from their family of origin God can also use even this to show the greatness of his love by contrast.

Psa 27:10  Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. Amplified version.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Believing we are loved

God telling us we are fully loved does not necessarily mean we believe we are fully loved. We can read and clearly see where God says he loves us and even comprehend the reasons for how and why he does but that is not necessarily the same as actually believing he does. 

If we are to experience and fully participate in the love that God truly has for us we must accept his assessment, fully believing it is true and reject our own or that of others (including Satan, the great deceiver and accuser).

Indications of unbelief…

How do we know if we are not fully believing? If you ever go through a hardship that causes you to question his wisdom, power, presence or care/love for you; that very questioning is due to unbelief.  I am not saying it's uncommon but it's unbelief nevertheless. 

Or if you choose to follow your directions over his directions, this also tells us we trust ourselves more than God.

This questioning or choosing does not actually stop God's love, but it does prevent us from experiencing and fully participating in it.

Possible causes…

This happens for various reasons but perhaps the biggest reason is it is simply too hard for us to accept love offered to us that has nothing to do with whether we are lovely or not i.e. all our experience of being loved prior to God's love is based almost exclusively on our being "good enough" to be loved (the exceptions might be loving parents and family for those blessed enough to have them). 

It is hard to comprehend that God's love is based solely on someone else being good enough for us, on our behalf i.e. they removed the barrier that obstructed God's love for us and we had nothing to do with or for it.

Our having trouble accepting Gods love can also be due to being mistreated so severely that we can not believe we are ever worthy of being loved.

Whatever the reason, we are called to believe God loves us simply because he says so i.e. he told us the reason Christ came and died is because of God's love. If God is for us who can be against us?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Longing… Painful or Pleasant?

Longing for meaning, purpose and happiness is both painful and pleasant. 

To long for something is to desire what you do not have. 
To not have what you desire is to feel lack or emptiness. 
To lack or be empty is not pleasant but painful.

However there is also no longing without hope. 

If we have no hope, we cannot allow ourselves to feel longing for fear of not obtaining what we long for. Without hope, our longing must be shut down or numbed in someway or it will drive us to despair.  The reason people commit suicide is they lose hope. 

If we have hope of what we long for, we pursue it with excitement and anticipation of fulfillment. The greater the hope the greater the excitement and anticipation. 

For these reasons longing is both painful and pleasant at the same time.

Rom 8:24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

Rom 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Changed by love...literally

God's love for us is the means of our transformation/sanctification/ spiritual formation.

Prior to eternity we experience his love *primarily by faith. In our present existence we are called to believe that he loves us no matter what we are going through. The primary proof of his love is the past work of Christ for us.  

*I say primarily by faith because God occasionally demonstrates his love through our experience and circumstances. But even these we benefit from by faith (do you know for sure a positive experience or circumstance is from the hand of God? Yes, but by faith i.e. it could be things went well by luck or happenstance. Of course we know for the true believer there is no such thing as luck or happenstance. But we know this by faith as well) and these are still secondary to the demonstration of his love for us in Christ's past work on our behalf. 

Once we go into eternity we experience his love firsthand by sight. As we continue to gaze upon him and take in his love we are transformed and our capacity for that love expands throughout eternity.

An illustration:

What is fascinating about shows like "American Idol" and "The Voice" is the transformation that occurs with the contestants as they continue to progress in the competition. As they do their view of themselves changes. Often after years of no recognition they are beat down and doubt they have anything worthwhile to offer. They must believe against all odds to continue. 

But as they progress on the show they are confirmed in their belief/confidence begin to have that belief reinforced that they really are capable after all and do have something valuable that others want. They begin to believe in their own value and talent. As they do you notice they become more relaxed, more confident and even more creative and productive (and if they recognize their gifts are from God, more humble). They begin to perform in ways they didn't know they were capable of. In short they actually look better and perform better. The full talent that they possess comes out more and more. 

This is a picture of the transformation that occurs with the child of God as they begin to realize God really does love and value them.

The big difference of course is our value is not based on our talents and efforts alone but ultimately on that of another i.e. on Christ's efforts on our behalf.