What kind of Jesus do you want? (5)
“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
Perhaps today you long for the Match.com Jesus, who will give you someone to love. He will be to you what you need, your sovereign Savior King.
We were designed to be social beings, to live in vertical community with God and horizontal community with others. But we can know the true joys of human love only if love for God first rules our hearts. It is only when He is in His rightful place in our hearts that people can be in their appropriate places in our lives. If love for God isn’t the place where you find your rest, you need human relationships too much and you are asking people to do for you what only your Savior can do. You are looking to find your identity and deepest sense of well-being in the acceptance and love of people. This never works because there are no perfect people in your life. In some way, all the people around you will fail you. In some way, every relationship in your life will disappoint you. In some way and at some point, you will be sinned against. No mere human being is qualified to be your personal messiah!
You see, if God is not in His rightful place in my heart and life, guess who I insert in His place? The answer, of course, is me. I make my relationships all about me. Rather than love for God shaping my relationships and motivating me to say and do the things I do, love of self drives me. Rather than being a patient servant in those relationships, I live in them as a demanding king. And because God is not at the center of my thoughts and desires, I expect to get from people in my life what only God can deliver. This always leads to disappointment and acrimony in my relationships. So I pray harder and work harder to make those relationships what they will never be. I look for help to Match.com Jesus, but what I am actually asking God to do is to replace Himself with other messiahs in my life—messiahs I can see, hear, and touch. This is the source of so much relational dysfunction and heartache.
But this picture is also a primary argument for our need for grace. Sin does make us focus on us too much. Sin does cause us to live in our relationships more like monarchs than servants. Sin does cause us to forget God and elevate people in our lives to the role of savior. Sin does cause us to question the goodness of God because He hasn’t placed these perfect little messiahs in our lives. Sin does cause us to craw the love of people more than we celebrate the eternal love of God. Only when we are progressively freed from our bondage to ourselves do we come to love God as we should; and as we love God as we should, we love people in the way that God has designed. For this struggle, there is amazing, perseverant grace. God bestows on us his eternal transforming love so that by means of that love we will become people who find our rest in His love, and because we do, we are then able to love others well.