‘ Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, Phil 2:5-6 (esv)
I don’t know about you but, I was overwhelmed by the bible’s description of love. I realise that in no way do I reflect these qualities in how I love.
My love isn’t patient, at times I do expect to be loved by others; my love isn’t kind, I do demand to be loved by others; I do envy others who seem to receive love easily; I do boast, I do want recognition for the things I have done, I want to be noticed; I am proud especially those times when I feel others are ignoring me and I need to stand out from the crowd. I gulped at the next description of love, it really isn’t something I had considered before, does my love dishonour others? Am I trying to tear others down because they seem too big for their boots or they have an easier life than me? Am I afraid of being left behind in the relationship stakes?
I know I self-seek, I know I want others to notice me and like me. I want people to tell me I’ve done a good job and feel better about myself. And when I don’t get the recognition, I think I deserve then I do become angry and more demanding.
The next one is a tough one, keeping no record of wrongs. My husband knows full well the damage this one causes. I was able to recall everything he had ever done wrong against me to the time and date of the offence. This recall ability would come to the forefront every time a new argument raised its head.
Those moments when life has got too much and all these feelings of abandonment and rejection take over and the compulsion to eat something to make me feel better takes over, in those moments I know I am delighting in evil, in the self-focused, self-indulgent moment of turning my back on God and finding relief in self, in that ‘me’ moment. And that is because in that moment I am not rejoicing in truth but believing the lies of the devil that God and others have abandoned me, that I deserve more, that other people are the problem, and I am the one that it is ok.
Any of this ring true with you? Are you fed up with self-focus yet? Or have you too bought into the lie that you are the only one that matters, that you need to go this alone because no-one else cares?
Philippians Chapter 2:1-3 spells out God’s solution; ‘So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves’. (esv)
Can you see? God’s love gift to us is one another. God is all about relationships, first with Him, then with one another. God’s solution to being loved is one another. Humanity’s strategy to love seems to be if no-one loves me then I’m not going to love anyone. Or I will only love those who prove they love me. Or I will only love my immediate family, they’re all I need. Or I will only love the lovable. This strategy hasn’t really worked out too well for our communities, this strategy creates individualism and in turn puts people into relational isolation.
God’s strategy is ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ love others with the love God has loved you. There is no greater love than the love of our Heavenly Father, who sacrificed the nearness of his relationship with his own Son so that we can know the love of God, so that we can come into relationship with the God of all creation.
If we start using God’s strategy of love, then everyone will know love. As we turn away from self-love and turn towards loving others in the way in which we would want to be loved, then everyone will grow in love. As we serve God and serve others in this way then we grow in love too.
What an incredible strategy; what an incredible solution to the problem of isolation and abandonment; turn away from self and move towards others in the light of Christ’s love for us.
And remember that in Christ his love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, why? Because Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. Jesus isn’t in this for himself he loves because he is loved by God and is secure in that love and he loves us in the same way as he loves God. And he promises to continue to love us even when we are unlovable.
Our love for God is always reflected in how we love one another, if we are not loving one-another well we are not loving God.
Let us all ask Jesus to help us to love as he loves and to desire to grow in that love and be willing to move towards others in love.
A daunting prospect? Don’t worry it’s as easy as picking up the phone and saying ‘Hi, how are you’ then listen!