Posted by: zephaniah317 | May 2, 2007

Conditions

I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts over the last three eventful days.  God has revealed much to me about my condition, why I engage in the chase every morning, noon, and night, why I need to be re-programmed.  Unbeknownst to me, my Father who loves me very much had placed a book by Erwin McManus called Soul Cravings in my path, thanks to BA giving it to me for Christmas.  I just now got around to it this week on my business trip, and he puts my thoughts very eloquently together in many different places in the little that I’ve read so far:

“…If God loves on condition, then we’re all in trouble.  And this, when you whittle it down to its bottom line, is the basis for all religion.”

When it relates to God, we call this one-sided love, which has, over time, become contextualized as an experience we call worship.  If you thought about it long enough, it would really make you sick.  If you had a friend or anyone you cared about in that kind of one-sided relationship, you would do everything in your power to convince her to dump him.  But we want so much to be loved that we allow ourselves to be coerced an demeaned just by they possibility of one day being loved.

I’m often accused of being irreligious, and I suppose it’s for this very reason.  Whether it’s Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Judaism, or any other ism, when a religion is created on the subtle premise that God withholds his love and you must submit to the system to earn that love, I consider it the worst of corruptions.

But again these traps work only because of two things:  we long for love, and we are convinced that all love is conditional.

Ironically, this is where so many have a problem with Jesus.  For centuries the church has been telling us if we want God to love us, we need to follow the rules.  It’s been far more important to focus on the sin problem than the love problem.  This is the only way the institution can maintain control over our lives.  After all, if love is unconditional, what will keep them following our rules?  Don’t we want people, first and foremost, to be good?”

What in the world would happen if people actually began discovering the actual message of Jesus Christ – that love is unconditional?  What would happen if we began to realize that God was not, in fact, waiting for us to earn his love, but that he was passionately pursuing us with his love?  What would happen if the word got out that Jesus was offering his love freely and without condition?”

“…The reason religion works is that we believe in conditional love and doubt the existence of unconditional love.”

As I was in “the world” this week, the business, hotel, restaurant, places, and was faced with the usual temptations – lust, foremost – I realized that although the people that I interact with every day may not know Jesus, at least some of them, in their darkest hour, are real.  Raw.  Honest with their emotions.  Honestly searching for something to fill the void in their soul, and making mistakes at every turn that doesn’t lead to Jesus.  And that led me to this “A-HA!” moment:

The church and family environment I grew up in was no more “righteous” or walking with God or healthy for me than the very things (or people) that the environment itself impressed upon me were “sinful” and would make me a “bad person”.

In my opinion, it’s better to be honest and real and make mistakes (small or huge) in my search for Christ and God and the filling of the void in my soul than to “follow the rules” and piously behave like the void is actually filled, when it’s not. 

So, why have I felt for 37 years, and especially the last three, like something’s wrong with me?  Because I’m following and believing in the wrong model.  I could re-write an old hymn this way:  “Con-di-tional love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.”  (c’mon, everybody now, sing it with me!)  My parents, and my church were more concerned with making me good than loving me, than teaching me to love.  Then, Erwin puts my “A-HA!” in his words:

“Some of us have come to our senses and realized that we’ve been taken.  Whatever kind of love you can purchase, it isn’t the love your soul longs for.  If you have to buy love, it’s not even worth the price.  I know that many of us look to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for our spiritual wisdom, but in this case John, Paul, George, and Ringo got it right – can’t buy me love.

So basically I’m looking not at a re-programming, but what I/T guys would call a re-formatting of the hard drive.  A clean sweep.  I’ve got no memory or experiences to fall back on that say, “I believed the right thing there or there or then or then.”  Thank God I’m at a church that teaches the unconditional love of Jesus.  And it’s no coincidence that I’m here.  Right now.  Learning this.  Experiencing this.

And, sports fans, it would not have happened had I not gotten married to my wife.  It’s still the best thing that has ever happened to me.  God led me into a situation where unconditional love was the only thing that would work.  My attempts at gaining my wife’s love were futile at best, and damaging at worst.  Trying to become someone I wasn’t, someone I’m not, just to gain her acceptance.  So much pride, so much self-preservation, keeping me from loving her unconditionally.  When all along, all I had to do was realize that we’re all on a level playing field.  We all limp.  We’re all flawed.  And we all need love/intimacy, which is the first “craving” that Erwin’s talking about in his book.  And to be honest, my mind’s eyesight into this truth is pretty much on the same level as an 82-year-old with cataracts.

Father, I’m blind.  Reformat me.  I want to see and live the truth more and more that (a) I’m only good because You are, and (b) same goes for everyone else.  I love You.  Thanks.

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Responses

  1. So basically I’m looking not at a re-programming, but what I/T guys would call a re-formatting of the hard drive. A clean sweep. I’ve got no memory or experiences to fall back on that say, “I believed the right thing there or there or then or then.” Thank God I’m at a church that teaches the unconditional love of Jesus. And it’s no coincidence that I’m here. Right now. Learning this. Experiencing this.

    GREAT INSIGHT, Z!!

  2. Good stuff. It is sad that our little human brains seem to try to find the rules because we can’t grasp unconditional love as you say. Give us a system, a blueprint. Listening to God every day and being in relationship with Him just seems so hard. !!! I wish I could grasp that it is the one thing that would make everything else seem easy and put the whole world in perspective. And, yes, I’m still here, thanks for asking. I was out of town for a week w/ sketchy internet access…not that it was a REAL excuse a I had not posted for a bit before that. Hmmm…my plan to start a blog in order to motivate myself to write more seems to have some holes. 🙂 I have been keeping up w/ yours, though. I’m gonna put you on my blogroll (quite the honor, I know) ’cause you’ve got some spiritually rich stuff and that’s what I attempt to be all about.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, LP.

    And, TTS, thanks to you as well. You’ve got some good stuff there, too, just wondering if the well dried up for a bit or something. 🙂 I’m honored to be on your roll. Thanks. And, may I suggest that you continue your blog simply to have a place to dump stuff (as in thoughts, feelings, situations, good or bad) that needs dumping. Works for me, anyway.

    P.S. It’s still amazing that I’m getting about 10-15 hits a day simply because I put country song lyrics on my blog. 😛

  4. That’s funny you get people on your site because of song lyrics…I get some interesting search terms, too. Someone has clicked on my blog 3 times on separate occasions after searching “the loudest taste on earth, snack item.” Hmmm.

    And I know that about “dumping” thoughts & feelings…when I was younger I used to have trouble writing negative thoughts in a nice journal book…when I was “up” I would write in that, and when I was “down” I would write in a plain old notebook. As if the book itself had to reflect my feelings, and I had to keep the two separate, which definitely indicates a certain mindset. I’ve gotten over that in writing in journals, but find out that it’s a new hurdle when it comes to a public blog…I’ll get there, I guess. Sorry this is so long.

    However, it’s not the reason I was writing another comment! A friend sent me a link to an article related to your blog post subject here, as in how we reduce Christ’s holiness to morality. It’s got some good points, but maybe doesn’t take it quite far enough for me as it seems to still be working the “be holy because you’ll be happier” angle, which, although true, should not be our motivation. Here’s the link.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/may/22.39.html

  5. YOU’RE apologizing for being so long? Did you SEE the comment I put on your latest post yet? 🙂

    Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out.


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