Wednesday, August 26, 2009

For the love of the Father...!

The love of the Father. I’ve wondered how exactly I’m going to write about this because it is the easiest, yet the hardest thing to get. So, I decided to sit it out for a bit, and focus on every other thing I have to do, which is a lot. Then my aunt comes home one day and says: “You have not put anything up!” That’s when I knew the sitting out was done. But even now, I still do not know how to get it out right.

Anyways, let’s start with this passage, Ezekiel 14: 1 – 5:

1 Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them? 4 “Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”’

Isn’t that typical of present day Christianity? We come to God’s presence, not thinking there is anything wrong with us, yet we harbor idols in our hearts. It’s not about physical idols; it’s the inner idols. Forget TV and fashion and all the things they teach in Sunday school. I’m talking about us. We are our own idols. The images we ascribe to, our visions for our future, in our interactions with people, from that cute boy/girl to the ignorant/annoying person you cannot stand. In our own way, we have become our idols, and we sacrifice the wealth, health and many blessings God has given us to worship ourselves, like real idol worshippers do. Just stop to think about it. We are not very conscious of ‘Self’, that we do not know when we cross that line, but we do that under the guise of making good impressions when we know it’s to attract whatever it is we wish to attract, or to put someone in their place, or to feed into this image of ourselves we’ve created. Either way, our minds finds itself revolving around this image of “self”, the god we are not conscious of. A bit too deep eh?

It’s ok to have aspirations and dreams, and we MUST beautify ourselves, ain’t nothing wrong with wigs and weaves and a bit of color here and there. We must have self-esteem and love ourselves for sure, but we do it, most times, to ascribe to this image of ourselves we have created. Remember in revelation, how Jesus was admonishing the church in Ephesus? They were Christians, and goods ones too. In fact, Jesus said they could not bear those who were evil, but they had departed from their first love even while doing the things they should with all of their might. If you ask me, I think they got the highest mark among the other 6 churches. They loved the things of God, but the love of God? Their first love? It was slowly being replaced by the love for something else. As God puts it, we draw near to Him with our mouths, but our hearts are far off. It may not be self, however, I choose to focus on self in this post because it is the common god that we are unaware of.

I got to understand this a while ago when I was battling the seeming dilemma between self-esteem and pride on one hand, and the love of the Father on the other. I am not snobby and intolerant of people, but God was constantly talking to me about pride and I just did not get. Over time, as He led me, He showed me I treated myself exactly as I described above, and this had a spillover effect on the way I treated others. Then I was worried! Not because I did not want to listen to God, but I felt that the unraveling I needed to do was at the expense of my image. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like than the lady I know I am when I’m feeling and looking my worst. I just felt that it is impossible to love God and to not love myself, and in the process, end up ‘worshiping’ myself like I did. Then I came across this verse 1 John 2:15-16:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh (love of the world 1), the lust of the eyes (love of the world 2), and the pride of life (love of the world 3)—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Focus on things of the world for now. The problem was not worshiping that image of ourselves per se, but it had its roots in the love of the things of this world. From lust, to the lust for things we desire (e.g. wealth, diamonds, cars, power, highly-placed positions etc), and the pride of life (hmm!!!). Think about it, when you put on that dress and it slides and fits on you like it does, and then you put on your stilettos, do that makeup that gets you looking and feeling like a sexy diva, use that perfume or that mixture of perfumes…isn’t all that coming from the 3 things John outlines that makes up the love of the things of the world? Doesn’t it translate into everything else, from your walk, to the kind of mannerism when you talk, and even to your very persona? You know you don’t act the same way everyday, so don’t even say, my clothes do not define me. No, they don’t, but the end you seek does. We don’t even know what/why we seek, but for sure our minds are attracted to the lust for that hot co-worker (love of the world 1), lust for that position (love of the world 2), and absolute confidence in our abilities, or way of handling things or people (love of the world 3). The problem with all that, as John points out is that we do not have the love of the father in us (the two cannot coexist). Our “love for God” ends at the emotion, or the high we feel after church on Sundays. Does not really mean much.

John 5: 39-42 talks about us, not just the ancient Jews. “39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you”. We seek God, we seek righteousness or rather the idea of righteousness and the idea of being saved and completely forgiven; yet we lack God’s love in us. But Jesus is saying, I do not receive honor from men, he does not need our seeking and "righteousness”. What is more important for us is that we must have that love of the father IN us. Not around us, but in us. Yet we do not love him. We hear what he says to us, but we do not do it, because we do not honor him. The bible says it clearly, that we do not honor him because we do not love him.

I did not want to accept it, and in Junkie fashion, I tried to prove to God that I can still see and go about life like I’ve been doing, and it does not mean I do not love God. Now that I admit it, it sounds stupid. But that was the direction my mind immediately went, without even realizing it. Months later, I’m back to square one and trying to figure out the junk I must move out, and all the things I tolerate in my life that takes out the love of the father. Thing is the love of the father makes you want to honor him. Think about it. True love translates into honor, not infatuations, but love, the kind that comes with respect. Think about the relationship with your child, that love for your child translates into you doing things that honor that child. From picking your child’s school, monitoring your child’s friends, everything is all about honoring that child and that child’s best interests. Basically, you’ve got their back, they can rely on your love, because of the honor you have shown to them. I did not see the way my mom brought me up as honor, as my mom is a correct African woman + we see honor as something that comes with age and should be earned. And rightly so, but sometimes, we give honor to people who have not earned it (like that ex-boyfriend). The person you give honor to in your life, is the person who carries much weight in your life. From what they say, to what they do, it has a bearing on you. If my mother tells me to come home early even if I want to hang out w/people I have not seen in ages, I would cut my meeting short, not because of fear, but because I honor her. My own pleasure takes 2nd place. That kind of honor does not happen to bosses or leaders you dislike, then you are just obeying orders, but honor lies in true love and respect. And when we choose instead to love the things that war against God and what He wants in our lives, we truly do not have the love of the father in us.

Even Jesus preached it while he was on earth. If you love me, you would keep my commandment. Too often we focus on the don’ts when all Jesus says is love the Lord your God, with all your heart…and your neighbor as yourself. The command is simply to love. But we focus on fornication, lies etc, and yet do not do his will. We do not even bother to find out his will for us in every aspect of our lives, how then can he be Lord over us as we profess? It is simply to love. To love God, and other people. And if we keep His commandments, we abide in his love, just as Jesus kept the father’s commandments and abide in his love. See we cannot do the things of God without loving him, that’s why we keep sliding off.

That love is not emotional, it is genuine. It is not the infatuation many Christians have with God, it is genuine love that seeks to honor him in our lives, seeking His will and obeying Him easily. That does not happen without the love of the father.

This love, what is it? 2 John 1:6: 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

It is simple, love the father, obey him, honor him. We love those things that God opposes on a constant basis but it is natural to walk in the love of our father if we agree we were created by him, and in his image knowing he is LOVE. It is bondage to walk in sin, but in his love, shunning sin does not mean bondage. Paul puts it like this, the things of God are not troublesome but our minds have held us in bondage. That’s why we keep slipping, and feeling like a Christian today and nothing like that tomorrow. By having the love of the father in us, we seek to honor him; our minds cannot tie us down. Too often we focus on the don’ts, but how do you grow when you do not commune with him more than our daily bread. Love creates that hunger and thirst for him, his presence, his clear directions. Seek after him, it is the love for him that leads you on, but begin your search, don’t focus on getting your mind right. You’ve been trying to do that all these years, when would you realize you can’t do it yourself, and neither is it going to happen when you are married. Find him now, when he can still be found. Allow him to be as real to you as the computer in front of you.

In closing, this is my prayer for you “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ” (2 Thess 3:5). Amen.

Best of the week!Link

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