The Problem of Dis-Unity
Knowing How Loved You Are
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I don’t think anybody would argue with me that we are experiencing a major epidemic of disunity in our culture. I’m not sure if our division is more intense than it’s ever been but it certainly is louder than it’s ever been. And perhaps more personal than it’s ever been, with even the closest relationships being sacrificed on the altar of presumed-rightness.
Can our faith hold the answer to this societal dilemma? I believe yes.
Some Christians would argue that unity isn’t anything that we should be striving for, and that the more aligned with the truth we are, the more division we’ll expect to experience with other people. This sounds completely nuts to me, but I have, in fact, had people argue with me online about this point. What happened to “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love?”
The more aligned we are with Love, the more unity we’ll experience with other people. Love aligns us.
I continually claim John 17:21 - “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” as proof that Jesus desired unity, in response to the division he saw, in particular, that which was created by those who lived with religious-rightness as their primary occupation.
If you’re not feeling much hope lately, I encourage you to think about how loved you feel you are by God, and how that might affect how you show love (and the amount of it) to other people.
To be rooted in love means to be so firmly convinced of the unbelievable, unconditional love of God. This is the firm foundation your life can rest upon. There’s nothing you can do to change it. You can’t make God love you more based on your actions…which also means (this might make your head explode!) you can’t make God love you any less based on your actions. You are so loved.
This is not a love-but kind of love that says, “I love you…but…” The but negates anything said prior. God loves you. No buts.
The only way you can’t look at every other single person as also being completely loved by God is if you think you’ve done something to earn it. Why can’t other people just be good like me? Or have the right theological beliefs like I do?
When you are convinced of how loved you are, you’re freed to show other people the same kind of no-buts love you’ve been shown.
This kind of extraordinary love allows us to move closer to people who are different than us. It allows us to reach out and help people we see in need. It compels us to seek to bring healing and wholeness where it’s needed. And as we get closer to others, we find out how much we actually have in common. The things that make us truly human…our desire to give and receive love, experience connection, and discover meaningful things to do…are shared by all of us.
When we aren’t convinced of God’s unconditional love for us, we settle for score-keeping as a way of continually trying to be assured that we’re loved…cause look at how good I am! This is how I’ve lived most of life—thinking that God’s (and most people’s) love came and went based on my goodness or badness, like the tide of an ocean. So, I got really good at being good. And in turn, really good at judging others. I’m so relieved to be done with that kind of living. The heavy yoke of performance-based living has literally been lifted off my neck. The burden of love is light.
If I Could Go Back
Something I wish I could change about my church background is believing the teaching about how bad I am, that I have no intrinsic worth and value, that I’m literally a worm in God’s eyes. That God can’t even look at me or be with me, and the only way God can love me is because of Jesus. This somehow communicates that God made us—declaring us really good—but then decided to despise us.
I was led to believe that the best way to be a Christian was to continually self-flagellate, as a way of keeping me broken and humble. It was done to demonstrate that the same amount of disgust God had for me, I also had for myself. A therapist could have a field day with the trauma-inducing impact of such teaching. And mine has.
I love how this tweet cuts right to the core of this issue.
A super-smart therapist I follow on Twitter, Krispin Mayfield (@K__Mayfield), replied to Kobe’s tweet:
“Shame-filled attachment style is trying to get closeness by proving to God that we know we're so disgusting, in an attempt to get God's favor (b/c we assume that's how God sees us). But that's not basing our identity in the truest thing about us - a beloved child of God (and is antithetical to it).”
Please check out Krispin’s book, Attached To God, an amazing book if you’d like to study more about attachment styles we learn as children and how they affect our relationship with God. It’s out Feb. 22nd and I’m honored to have been asked to narrate the audiobook version! It’s definitely one of my favs.)
Making It Practical
Think about a person who is loving (or has loved) you particularly well. What makes their love so compelling? Did you feel like you had to “perform” for them to earn their love?
How much do you think God loves you? How much is God disgusted by you? What are you basing your beliefs on?
Who is someone in your life that you’ve been holding back love from…until they get their act together? What might it look like to unconditionally love them, even in their imperfect form?
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
—Romans 8:38-39 (MSG)
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