Learning how to Die #3

Love is hard.

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.

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10 Comments

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  1. I heard or read somewhere recently how it’s good to compliment the people that lead and serve in your church, whether that be your pastor, worship leader, ect. Because they work hard at what they do and need to be appreciated for it! So I’m sorry that happened to you last Sunday, and hope it’s different next time!
    Good series so far. Really has me thinking of what this looks like: dying to self.
    And as not fun as it is, it’s a good place to be at. When you realize that you can’t do it (love others when they’re not being very loving in return or whatever it may be), on your own power but only through God’s.
    Kelsey

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  2. What she said – good series. Interested to see where this ends up =) x

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  3. Of course you can’t love them in your own strength. Hallelujah God doesn’t call you to even try. He just wants you to understand how much he “agapes” you. Once you get this – then loving others unconditionally will be a doddle because you won’t care whether you could potentially be hurt by them. So it would be good to stop striving to love them and just start repeating to yourself how much God loves you – and how he sees you (which isn’t as a piece of dust)…
    Try repeating these to yourself as a starter ( and see how many others you can find – someone has given me a list of 93!!)

    I AM ……
    A Child of God – Romans 8 v 16
    Redeemed from the curse of the law Galations 3 v 13
    Delivered from the power of darkness (COlossians 1 v 13
    The head and not the tail Deuteronomy 28 v 13
    Holy and without blame before him 1 Peter 1 v 16
    Accepted in the beloved Ephesians 1 v 6
    More than a conqueror Romans 8 v 37
    An overcomer by the blood of the lamb Revelation 12 v 11
    The righteousness of God in Christ 2 Cor 5 v 21
    The apple of my father’s eye (Deut 32 v 10
    Fearfully and wonderfully made Psalm 139 v 14
    An enemy of the devil 1 Peter 5 v 8

    I HAVE …..
    The mind of Christ – Philippians 2 v 5
    Access by one Spirit unto the father Hebrews 4 v 16
    The peace of God which passes understanding Phil 4 v 7
    A spriit of power love and self-discipline 2 Tim 1 v 7

    All God calls us to do is to believe HIM and not the devil’s lies. They say if you repeat these texts to yourself five or six times a day for 21 days – your mind takes them on board and finally believes what God has said is always true – and then we can start rebuking the devil and identifying and then dealing with his lies.

    Hallelujah what an awesome God we have
    Try it and see – IT REALLY DOES WORK

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  4. Interesting you should mention spiritual disciplines like scripture memorisation, I think thats what I’m going to write on next….

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  5. Think you might have misunderstood. I’m not talking about spiritual disciplines. I’m talking about knowing who I AM in Christ and using that knowledge to choose to control my emotions.

    Its strange how believing a text is true actually makes it instantly memorable to me, whilst just learning it by rote as a discipline never really had that same effect.

    It’s like the difference between being able to do maths because you love it or struggling to learn maths because you know it will help you pass the exam.

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  6. For me, spiritual disciplines are a means of knowing who I am in Christ.

    Maybe I’m going to struggle to learn maths because I really enjoy it, to utilise your metaphor.

    I read my bible every day, and sometimes it’s a chore and not a joy, sometimes I don’t like what I see in it, but I read it each day because I love God and want to know him, and even know myself.

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  7. Your analagy doesnt work – the point I was making is that if I love maths I don’t HAVE to learnt it – I just understand it.

    I just struggle to understand how you can ever find reading the bible a chore? Yes there is lots in it that is challenging and not easy to understand but for me it is a letter from my lover and whatever it says I can’t wait to read and re read it. It makes me smile, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry it makes me think it makes me happy it makes me sad but it is NEVER a chore to read. Because its from my lover and whatever it says I want to read it. Not because I love but because I AM LOVED.

    Having JOY is a COMMAND not a CHOICE!! But paradoxically it is a command that is so easy to obey you don’t even have to try once you realise just how much you are loved.

    You don’t have to “make yourself” learn a verse in order to KNOW its truth. Either I know my lover loves me or I don’t – I can’t persuade myself to believe something that isn’t true. I can still bring to mind and recite sentences from letters my husband wrote to me twenty years ago – not because I made myself learn them, but because they meant so much to me because it showed how much he loved me that the words just stayed with me.

    Our relationship with God isn’t about striving to “get it right” or even “improve” but just resting in how much HE loves us.

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  8. thanks Ian, this really ties in with some of the stuff I’ve been reading in Foster that is sometimes hard to put reality. Makes a little more sense.
    Bx

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  9. I hear what Beverly is saying, but that doesn’t stop things hurting. It doesn’t stop the real scars from the deep wounds that people lay upon us by the way they treat us, intentionally or unintentionally.
    Knowing I am loved by I AM will give me reality, grounding and strength to recover from the pain, but it will not remove it all together.
    Think how Jesus bore the pain inflicted by men, whilst completely and utterly resigned and surrendered to the absolute knowledge that he was loved. He was able, but it still hurt.
    And security in the love God offers is the first step in learning to love others. It’s not simple and its not easy, and often it causes more pain than it feels like its worth, but God will grow us and our love of others, only for most of us, it takes time.
    Ian, remember, “nothing is wasted” http://www.robbell.com/resurrection/
    Grace & Peace brother.

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