How Do We Know We Love God?
I'm always curious what people mean when they say that they "love God." How do you love something/one you can't see? Do you draw from experiences when you think you might have felt God? Is it something that you know? When you start thinking about it, it's a lot more difficult to flesh out, isn't it?
I read this amazing quote today from Bob Goff from his book Walk In Love:
Loving God started to make more sense when I realized loving a God I couldn't see was a lot like loving the people [God] made and put all around me.That quote is a perfect example of what I call the "simplicity on the other side of complexity." Loving God isn't something that you can demonstrate by reading your Bible every day, praying all the time, going to church... those are all things that benefit you.
We show our love for God in the way that we love others---even those who are difficult to love.
This week I'm going to starting a new sermon series entitled "The Grudge: Overcoming the Painful Parts of Our Past." So naturally, I've been thinking a lot about how so many of us have a tendency to carry around with us the painful parts of our past.
Far too often we hold resentment and bitterness toward the people who’ve hurt us, mistakes that we’ve made, and even toward God for the things that others have done. These grudges weigh us down and keep us from being the people we long to be.
And for the most part, these tendencies are completely grounded in our own choices, our own unwillingness to admit our part in things, or just how hurt and wounded that we are. It's easier to just hold the other person at arms length, and maybe even let them go from your life altogether.
To be fair, there are some people in our lives that we need to let go of if we are going to be able to live abundantly. If there's a toxic person in your life, who constantly wounds or abuses you, and never really repents of it---you should absolutely get out of that relationship.
But holding on to the hurt a toxic person has caused you, and letting it darken all the other aspects of your life simply gives them undeserved power over you. As crazy as it sounds, the best way forward is to find a way to lovingly forgive them, and set both of you free.
You may never have a relationship with them again, but at least you won't be living wounded and small any longer. They won't take up any more head space or heart space, and you can find good, beautiful and true things to fill those spaces instead.
And there might be people in your life that you parted ways with long ago, and you can't even tap in to the anger or hurt you felt then any longer. I've had those moments--when you see the person and you realize you aren't angry, and you don't remember how it all happened.
I think if you believe that there's a chance that things could be made right between you and someone with whom you've had a falling out, you should step into it.
Chances are, they are hurting just the same as you. Someone has to drop their weapons first, and take the first step toward peace. This is what it means to be a Jesus-follower, really. This is what it means to carry the light of Christ into dark places.
The poet Tiffany Aurora puts it like this:
"Just don't stand
inside other people's
Well then... what is
all of this light here for?
Come on! How amazing is that?
May you find ways to repair the broken relationships in your life that are painful and wounding. May you discover ways to set the toxic people from your past free, and in so doing free yourself with forgiveness. May you carry your light into the dark and broken places where grudges, hurts and grievances live.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.