And I don’t mean hard in that it costs money or time or energy.
I mean it is hard to even think lovingly about someone, or a situation, or a group of people. Sunday, I was leading worship in a church which seemed rather unconcerned that I was even there. In fact the only comment I got at the end was the mumble ‘you forgot the Lord’s Prayer’.
I struggled to love those people. A lot. That was in a worship setting where I was supposed to fix my mind upon Jesus and love and all those sort of good Christian things. In fact, I sort of became frustrated with them. Some of that frustration may well have been legitimate – I mean, I think it’s pretty ridiculous for people to refuse to open their bibles in church – but I remember leaving that building with a fair amount of contempt in my heart for them.
That was the start of my week.
I woke up this morning and pulled on some clothes, sat on the floor in my corridor ready for prayers. On a bright and cheery morning, I’ll tell you what thought did not spring to my mind right away: ‘I can’t wait to pray with my brothers in Christ’. Nope, that idea was nowhere to be found. It was more like ‘how soon can this be over so I can get a shower and a shave.’
Previously in this discussion, I reflected that loving God and loving others is the heart of the law, and to be obedient to the law brings me to a place of death, as it brought Christ to his death. As I die to myself in this way, I get to experience the resurrection power of God in my life, the power of the Spirit which perfectly fulfils the law in a way I could not.
At this point, I’ve already discovered that switching to a loving disposition is quite the challenge. My default position is self interest. In fact, it can be even worse than that. There is the punch list, the people I sort of would like to hit in the face because they wind me up. And there are also the wounds I have sustained as I have been sinned against. It’s like my nature and my experience harden me against love.
So at this point, perhaps I have reached a point of death. Not a selfless death like Christ’s, but a dying to self in that I become aware that even orientating myself to bless, care for and love others is impossible by myself.
I am glad, none the less, to know that this is God’s voice, God’s leading and it is to his arms that I surrender myself. Even in admitting that I am in fact merely dust, I am still God’s dust, and he still breathes his Spirit into me.