God is love.
Love drives out all fear.
Every soul tormented in Hell right now is a sinner who rejected God’s love, His Son, and God’s forgiveness for his or her sins. They are getting exactly what their sins deserve, no more and no less. Hell is justice.
Some people have been so pained and threatened by their childhood experiences that they have their guard up all the time.
It is hard for them to receive love.
It is near impossible for them to have the vulnerability to give love.
Life is short, and it is horrifying to go through it without the ability to love or be loved.
Why some people are afraid of others’ Self-Disclosure.
Why some people are repulsed by others giving them Forgiveness, Money, and Honesty.
Why receiving Kindness, Compassion, Help, and Caring are scary for some people.
I awoke this morning with an insight into spiritual growth.
A few years back, I had this question about human behavior that I couldn’t answer.
I saw people who had things given to them from other people. Sincere kindness, compassion and love, and I saw them refusing it. I could hardly believe it. I couldn’t figure it out. What could be better than love? Were they were not accustomed to that sort of thing? Did they did not think it was sincere? Did they think there was another motive other than goodwill? I wasn’t sure.
Why would someone be afraid of love? I thought, maybe they see kindness as charity. They might like to think they are too self-sufficient for that kind of thing.
But here’s the insight I awoke with: some people are afraid of love because it might change them.
It’s the same principle as gift-giving. If you give a nice gift, the other person often says, “You shouldn’t have,” or, “I can’t accept this.”
Why do they do this? It’s because, in accepting a gift, they have entered into a love relationship with another person.
They might wrongly feel obligated. They have, after all, been given a free gift. They are entering a relationship that might cause them to want to do acts of loving kindness in return. And that is a very uncomfortable feeling for many people.
Americans, especially, want to live by independence, laws, and not needing charity. But all love is charity. It is something we need. It is a free will action. Charity, here, meaning love, not giving to the poor.
Love has a strong tendency to change people for the better, unless they fight that tendency.
But what about self-disclosure and the other gifts? These might get the same counter-intuitive response, and for much the same reasons.
If someone takes money as a gift, they might question whether or not they have been generous in the past.
What if someone else is open? (About their struggles, faults, fears, experiences, doubts and sins). It does a couple of things. It might shatter a person’s view of other people’s “perfect” lives. It might remind them of the truth of their own faults and failings and struggles.
It might remind them that it would help them to be honest about their own humanity.
Bonus insight: This is the reason I love indie movies. There is something soul-satisfying or even noble, about admitting, or being forced to admit, the hard and unpleasant truth about oneself, which is often a feature in these movies.
This is one of the things I’ve seen lately. The wider scope of true Christian spirituality. It’s more than believing in Jesus for salvation. It’s more than being the child of God that you are in Christ, and living by His Spirit.
It’s also about being honest about the failings of the flesh that we need to dis-identify with daily (die to daily.) Believers died with Christ and are risen with Christ, Galatians 2:20. A believer in Christ has a new self, a new identity, that we live in, and from, by God’s grace, and by faith. God loves us.
Two things I always wished for:
One, that spiritual growth would be automatic and effortless by the Holy Spirit.
And two, that we could hook up to Jesus by faith, by grace, in God’s Spirit, once and for all. And have His life flow through us, without interruption, forever.
I now see these things as spiritual fantasies (until we are with Jesus in glory, where they will be reality).
I also see them as the main reasons that many people are dead in the water when it comes to spiritual growth.
To disidentify with our sinful nature, we need to first admit and confess our sins, to God and to other believers we trust.
This is where spiritual growth occurs. When we confess our sins, the Spirit of Christ flows through us. This happens because His Spirit and His love are no longer blocked by the external mask that we are no longer wearing.
Otherwise, we end up becoming ever more fake. We wear our mask of hypocritical Christian perfection. We become the “hypocrites.” These are people that unbelieving visitors to, and former burned members of, Christian churches are always complaining about.
As we confess our sins and the reality of our life, we can drop the facade. We can throw away the “perfect” personal media storefront creation of ourselves, and be genuine.
Christianity offers the great gift of being real. We are not only the perfect person in Christ that we are by His declaration.
We also can become fearless in showing others what is still here, for now, in our flesh.
People love a before-and-after story. They love people to get up and explain how God completely changed them, 100%, from what they were before!
The story we are not quite as fond of is the real one: the fact that we still struggle and fail and sin.
Christianity has a built-in allowance for this all-pervasive human reality.
Jesus gave The Lord’s Prayer to the disciples to pray. It says, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It acknowledges the reality of our sinful human condition—while at the same time preaching our new reality in Christ—God is “Our Father.”
The New Testament counsels us to confess our faults to one another.
The way of the world is to mask personal faults, until there is a giant explosion of one kind or another.
The Bible says to confess our weaknesses so that the power of Christ might rest upon us.
This results in true spiritual growth.
1 John 4:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)
Knowing God Through Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
“Love is desiring and taking action for the highest good of another. It can be expressed by who you are in Christ, by what you believe, by what you feel, by what you say, by what you do, by connection to God, by connection to others, by listening, by caring, by helping, by encouraging, by giving time, by giving money, by giving food and goods, by teaching, by forgiving everyone of everything continually, by praying, by self-sacrifice, by knowing, by loving presence, by acceptance, by goodwill, by faithfulness, by wisdom, by kindness, sometimes by anger, sometimes by rebuke, sometimes by taking drastic action to protect, by truth, by understanding, and by many other things…”