Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Golden Rule - Christianity is a Relationship!

We have all heard the famous command, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But that statement is not complete as it is. There is an initial and fundamental part to it that is often ignored, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then love your neighbour as you love yourself.”

You’re probably thinking the first part is not so necessary, we just need to love people as ourselves. But the truth is, we cannot truly love others or even ourselves unless we go back to the source of love - God.

That’s right, the Christian God is Love, He does not have love, he is LOVE. It’s His nature. In 1 John 4:8-9 we are told, “The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him.”

One of the amazing things I have learnt since becoming a mother, is that love is more than warm fluttery feelings. Love sees the good, the bad and the ugly in a person, and yet still remains faithful to that person. Love, true love is unconditional, it always looks out for the recipient’s best interests. And guess what? That is how God sees us and loves us. He knows us with our weaknesses and strengths, He sees everything we do even the hidden sins of the heart, yet He loves us regardless. Make no mistake, He hates sin, but He loves the sinner and desires his/her repentance. The Bible tells us in Romans 5:7-8, “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

This is a tremendous statement because it shows us clearly that God chose to love us even when we were unworthy of His love. He knew all the crazy things we would do, yet He expressed and still expresses His love towards us.

I don’t know about you, but the fact that I don’t have to earn God’s love by doing good things is truly liberating. I do good things out of appreciation for what He has already done instead of trying to win His love. This healthy image of ourselves through the eyes of God, should give us a deep sense of appreciation for our lives. It should make us base our worth and our identity in Jesus Christ instead of material acquisitions, or degrees, or careers, or family, popularity, etc. Not that these things are not good, but they should not define us.

And because we see our selves in the light of God’s unconditional love, it becomes easy to show understanding and patience towards others, because we too have received same from God. If we don’t include the God part, we would be trying to love people like we love ourselves. Seriously how many of us truly love/accept ourselves, warts and all?

Job interviews show us how much we want acceptance based on what we have: our experience, our education, certification,personality, etc. At job interviews, we hype our good parts and hide the not-so-great bits about ourselves. Even after we get the job, our worth is often tied to the job position, the company we work for, our account balance,etc. Forbes list tells us that the worth of a person is based on his/her net-worth.

And so we fall into this trap of judging others based on their net-worth or
some other measure of success. Anyone less than us, is treated as inferior. How can we possibly show genuine love to someone we feel superior to? At best we would be patronising.

But God is saying we should love others as He has loved us. He wants us to show people understanding, treat them as equal, see the best in them, choose to love them even though they are not perfect. Why?Because He sees the best in us, even when we are far from it. And He wants us to go out there and do the same to others.

The summary of Christianity is relationship (with God, with ourselves and with others) based on love. Period.It’s not only about the number of times we go to church, or act good. The Bible warns us in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,”and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven”– Matt 7:21. And what is the will of the Father? For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments (- 1 John 5:3); And the greatest of His commandments is Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then love your neighbour as you love yourself.

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