Monday, November 3, 2014

On Idolatry, but more so, Love.

Obviously idolatry is a big deal. I mean, no one is going to deny that God doesn't take it lightly. This thought has had be me going.

"It is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for Himself." - Matt Chandler

Would you still love God if he didn't give you anything in return? As in, even if he didn't offer to save you, even if he didn't help you, even if he wasn't present, even if he didn't love you... would you still love him just because he is God and because that is what you were made to do?

Well, first, the answer is no. I would not still love him, because I only love because He first loved me (1 John 4:19). But let's say I could love apart from his love, would I still choose to love him?

We should want God simply because He is God. Yeah, he gives us good things, and that's great, he opens incredible doors of opportunity, he provides for us, and he's constant- yes those things are awesome and great, but we should not be worshiping God for those things. We shouldn't be worshiping God simply because of the benefits we gain from Him, because then we're really worshiping the benefits. We should be worshiping Him because He is God, and that's it. Yeah, the benefits are great, and thank God for the grace of his benefits, but we should never want God for his benefits and not for who He is.

So I got to thinking...

How would I feel if my friends or family only wanted me for what I offered them? What if they didn't value me as a person or for who I was, but only for what I gave to them, how I spoke to them, how I made them feel? My whole world would become performance based. Every relationship would be completely founded on if I did enough, if I gave enough, if I benefited them enough to fit into their schedule and lives. My whole world would become a miserable way of living.

That's when it hit me. I should be loving God because He is God, unconditionally.

But then something else hit me. God loves me, and it's absolutely not because of what I can offer him. He doesn't love me because I benefit him. He loved me when I did the opposite of benefit him. He loved me even though I cursed him and hated Him. He doesn't need me, not even in the smallest amount... but he wants me. He loves me apart from what I bring to the table. And that's absurd... and it's true.

So, God loves me and it's not because of what I can profit him, but also, God loves others and he doesn't love them out of what they benefit him.

If God loves me, and it's not performance based, and if God loves others and it's not performance based, and if I am supposed to love God with it not being performance based, then it would make sense that if I loved people, it would not be performance based either.

If I were to really love people I would love people for who they are. I wouldn't base friendships off of how comfortable I am or how easy it is to hang out, or if they are the kind of people who encourage me, or if they're the kind of people that make me feel good about myself. I mean, if I were to really love people, I wouldn't even have to have anything in common with them- I would just love them because who they are is valuable and who they are is deeply loved by God. If I were to really love people, I wouldn't need affirmation from them, or time from them, or gifts from them, or anything from them, I would just need them to be-

I was thinking about how incredibly secure God must be in himself. He needs zero affirmation from anyone ever. He knows exactly who he is. He knows exactly how much he is infinitely worth (and that's a paradox in itself.) He has never had, nor will ever have any sort of identity crisis. He will never question his value. He is secure in who he is and I think THAT is one of the reasons why he loves so well. He doesn't need anything from us, so giving becomes an act of love instead of an act of expecting a return.

I should be secure because he loves me, and not because of how I might benefit him. But this is a constant struggle for me. It doesn't make any sense, because unconditional love isn't natural and it's certainly not something I have ever been able to do completely. And maybe that's the issue, maybe I feel like I'm not capable of receiving unconditional love because I don't haven't ever unconditionally loved someone- to love in such a way that is completely selfless and wholly just for the sake of loving the other. I can't do it, and that doesn't mean no one can, but it just means that I'm definitely not deserving of receiving it myself.

But that's the thing about God, he loves me even though I don't deserve it... just because He is good... and his love is unconditional. (these things are over my head- see also Romans 5:8).

Anyway, I should be secure when it comes to loving others. I am completely loved by God and accepted by him, I do not need others to benefit me. I do not need them to accept me, I do not need them to tell me I'm awesome, I do not need them to make me feel good about myself, because all of my identity is not wrapped up in loving people to get worth from them, but my identity is wrapped up in knowing that they cannot offer me anything that I do not already have in Christ. All I can do is give, all I can do is love. But, first and foremost I must know I am wholly and completely loved by God. Then I can love.

That changes how and why I love the Lord, it changes how I deal with knowing my own value, and it changes how I approach people.

I should love God because he is God, not because I gain from loving him (because if I only love for what I gain, I really love what I gain and not whom I gain it from ... and that, as Chandler said, is still idolatry). God does not need me to love him in order for Him to love me so I don't have to worry about performing well for him in order to gain acceptance. I am secure in the unconditional love that God gives me and I love others out of that with the same type of love with which he loves me- with the kind that does not require benefits from others, with the kind of love that is already secure in myself, with the kind of love that is unconditional.

1 comment:

Chelsea said...

dang good stuff guido.