1 Jun 2012

Love is...not comparing yourself

Most of us might not like to admit it but we are constantly comparing ourselves to each other. We might not like to admit it because ultimately when we do compare ourselves we’re effectively revealing that we don’t like who we are.

If everyone does it then we’re all just wasting time trying to be each other and eventually none of us will be anyone. And that’s just stupid.

Why do we do it then? Why then in a culture like ours (and I’m specifically speaking of a Northern Irish Church culture) where we are told often enough that we are sinners and need saved, do we not embrace our faults? Our weaknesses. Our insecurities. Isn’t that what we are told Jesus came to save us from? Our weaknesses are a good thing then. Right?

Well if you are anything like me then you know that it’s not that simple. You can submerge yourself in a Christian culture still only deeply rooted in the idea we need saved and still have doubts about who you are, why you’re not as funny as her, why you don’t play as well as him, dress well enough, organize things as well. 

Pick whatever it is you enjoy doing, feel good about yourself because of or are inspired to live your life for and there will always be someone out there better or more talented. 
But if Jesus already sorted our sin and our faults, why do we still put so much effort into comparing ourselves?

Is it that we don’t really understand what Jesus did for us? Is it because we are simply human or is it because we are jerks?

Or all three?

The prevalent teaching of most Churches is that Jesus died for us because we are screw ups and that if you want to go to Heaven you need to be saved or else you will be going to Hell.

Our mission is biased towards this so we focus on winning souls. Our relationships are based on this so we spend most of our time with other Christians. Our teachings are focused on how we live well so we don’t backslide.

But what if we have skewed it a little?

What if we have narrowed the Gospel to simply about a one off event? 

To simply about our final destiny.

What happens in-between?

And how does it affect how we think about ourselves?

Is it possible that Jesus died for us not only because He wants us to feel His love forever but He wants us to experience it now?

Is it possible that Jesus has a plan that consists of more than sitting around, waiting for Him to come back and not screw up in the meantime?

When we look at the Gospel in this alternative way I think it allows us to take hold of our faults and say, even with these Jesus still loved me enough to free me. So even if with your porn addiction or your gossip compulsion or your fear of not being in control, Jesus still went ahead.

Those weren’t enough to put Him off.

But apparently for us they are.

In John 8 the Pharisees bring a woman to Jesus who has committed adultery. In fact she was right bang in the middle of it (Interesting also that the man is nowhere to be seen). They bring her to Jesus for Him to condemn her. It’s a set up. Hundreds of people are surrounding you yelling angrily, hatefully. Jesus has to join them right? But instead he writes words on the ground in the dirt. Nobody knows for certain what, but slowly the crowd peels away. The people have no answer. Soon it’s just the woman and Jesus. Jesus asks her who condemns her. Everyone is gone. Nobody condemns her. And then Jesus utters the words that change her world.

“Neither do I”.

Before that He invited those who had never messed up in their life to throw the first rock at the woman. Of course no one could accept that invite. And yet we feel the sharpness of rocks thrown at us all the time. It just so happens the one throwing the stones is ourselves.

Jesus’ focus is not on what she has to do for Him to love her. It’s not even a factor. His focus is not about her eternal destination. It’s not even mentioned. It’s about here and now.

To embrace His love simply because He is love.

That is his focus.

And it should be ours too.

But so often we forget we are loved, we panic and then look at others to see how we can improve.

Forgetting that because of Jesus, there is nothing to improve on.

Forgetting it’s a waste of time and effort.

And it won’t get us anywhere.

Even Heaven.


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