I recently preached a two part message entitled, “The Hardest Thing You Will Ever Do.” It made some uncomfortable and struck a deep chord with others. It challenges our belief about Jesus making all things new.
Jesus said in Mark 12 that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. To rephrase the last portion: I am to love you just like I love me. What does that look like?
1 Cor.13:4-7 tells us that love is patient, kind…it keeps no records of wrongs…never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. This is how God loves me. This is how I love others. And, this is how I love myself. I believe I am to love others the same way God loves me (unconditionally) and I am to love myself the same way He loves me (unconditionally).
Our unrenewed mind rebels against this because we consider how inconsistent, apathetic, and judgmental we are and it reveals how little we believe in the power of Jesus’ blood which makes me pure and whole through and through whether I feel it, live it or fully believe it or not.
It is only possible to love yourself the way God loves you by abiding in Jesus—John 15, 1 John 4. You know you are abiding in Him when you see yourself as a dearly loved child of God who is completely and eternally accepted and enjoyed by Him.
This is terribly hard because sin corrupted and broke everything. We began working towards love based on effort and performance. We believe: God loves me if I’m good; you love me if I treat you right; I love myself if I am doing well. It is a conditional love. The first Adam’s sin brought brokenness and death but the second Adam’s righteousness brought restoration and wholeness. Perfect love from God, for you and for me is now possible.
This is not a call to compromise or justification for my sin. In other words, just accept who I am…sin is okay…I don’t need to worry about changing., No. Rather, I see those things, but I accept myself unconditionally just as God does. I know the inconsistencies, hypocrisy, and disobedience but so does God…a WHOLE lot better that I ever will, yet He still loves me unconditionally.
Are we not to love what God loves and in the same way?
Here’s my Christmas present to you. For a week, stand in front of a mirror and say, “God loves me unconditionally, wholeheartedly and without reserve and so I love myself unconditionally, wholeheartedly and without reserve.” Watch what begins to resist that statement, because those are the things God wants to make new.