Here is a truth. Regardless of your eternal destination there is one thing certain, you have an eternal partner, YOU. I don’t know if you have ever thought about that. It really hit me today. Sometimes God shows us stuff about ourselves that can be a little hard to swallow but He gives us the Grace to receive it.
(What I am about to discuss is a bit dangerous but I trust God will plant and water where required and pull up a few weeds if necessary.)
I discuss surrender a lot on this site. Hopefully I have been clear that surrender has to do with our thinking and not our actions. The greatest stumbling block in our growth is between our ears. We typically are stuck in old patterns of thinking. We have “learned” all kinds of wrong stuff based on our experiences and what we have been taught. In many cases we have been immersed in religion and religious concepts that are all about our self-effort, self-righteousness, self-improvement and all the other self-reflection stuff and have failed to live from His effort, His righteousness, His improvement program, His value for us. As a western culture we have missed the mark when it comes to Grace. We have added all kinds of “buts” and “ands” and “balance” and…to fall from Grace and back into law. In the process of doing all that we have completely lost sight of a healthy view of “self.” All of our self-religious stuff has focused our effort on denial and devalue. The common view of religion is “we are all worthless piles of poop that will never be any better and only Jesus covers up our evil, nasty selves.” The problem with that kind of understanding and teaching is (forgive my boldness and bluntness) it is from the devil, period. I’m not saying that people are possessed or anything like that. I’m not saying that 2000 years of Christianity has been wrong. I am saying that this lie of shame has been the devil’s tool from the very beginning. Check this out:
Gen 3:8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (ESV, emphasis added)
Can you see it wasn’t sin that separated us from God, it was our SHAME! God came looking for us even after we sinned. He was pursuing us even in our sin. WE HID FROM HIM! The devil had a masterful plan. He would deceive us by telling us that God was holding back, He wasn’t giving us everything, we weren’t made in His image. All lies. In the process we would eat from the wrong tree and discover self, shame, law, lists… In this state we would hide from God. The devil did not want us in a relationship with God. It infuriated him to think of us worshiping God instead of him. He wanted us for himself and in our self-perspective state he could manipulate us into shame. In shame, in condemnation we wouldn’t possibly approach God. We would be removed from God’s goodness and provision and instead rely on our own effort (which is never good enough and creates more shame which makes us work harder which is never good enough which…spiral spiral crash).
Jesus died to remove our shame. He died to remove any condemnation. He restored us and reconciled us and redeemed us and saved us and justified us and made us new (just to name a few things He did). So from this new place on this side of the cross there are no more excuses. We can and should and must and get-to and “how can we not” approach our Abba Father, our Pappa, our Heavenly Daddy and let Him love us! How amazing is that. We are forgiven completely. Our transgressions are outside of His memory. He holds nothing against us at all, ever. When we believe in Jesus we are in His family. We are in His righteousness. We receive His faith. We live from His faith, His trustworthiness, His love, His passion, His compassion, His life. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Except one problem…
Have we forgiven ourselves?
Jesus didn’t die to make us loveable. He died because we were loved. He didn’t die so we would be made worthy. He died because we were and still are worthy. We don’t deserve any of it but He chose to do it because of us. He didn’t die because of our sin. He died to remove our sin. He didn’t die to clean us up. He died to make us a new creation. He didn’t die to give us a greater moral character. He died to set us free from a sin nature. Can you see it? You are worthy!
I asked God “why are some caught in destructive behavior when they are set free in Christ?” He said “they haven’t forgiven themselves.”
I was reading a testimony about a guy who had a pattern of lust for women. He was in a job where he waited on a lot of women. Even though he was secure in his identity he found himself lusting after women again. The more he tried to “not lust” the worse it got. Law gives power to sin. So he asked God “what is the deal?” God told him he wasn’t valuing the women. That is when it hit me. When we are “trapped” in destructive behavior we are not valuing ourselves.
I know it is dangerous to talk this way since some actually worship themselves, but I assume if you are reading this post you aren’t in that category. I have to say that this revelation was powerful for me. It was very personal and somewhat painful to realize I don’t value myself. Jesus said this (7 times):
Luke 10:27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (ESV)
And the Holy Spirit said this through Paul:
Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 Because we are members (parts) of His body. (AMP)
I am so desperate for more of Him. I so much want a greater encounter with Him. I want those intimate talks and walks. I want to live this life like Jesus where I know His thoughts and I see His will in everything I do. I realized that I have a strong connection with Him in the area I value myself. I have given Him all the credit for the brain I have and do value the gift of intellect. Remarkably that is the place I connect with Him the most, revelation. It is powerful and exciting and loving. But He said I haven’t forgiven myself and valued myself like He does in so many other areas. For example, do you know how when you look at a picture of a group of people and you look for yourself? I hate to find my picture. I have never liked seeing myself in a picture. Why? There are all kinds of reasons but in the end I haven’t learned to value myself like He does. He made me. He values me. He died to prove it. So now I surrender to His Grace. I am asking Him to show me how to love me.
I would encourage you to do the same. Ask God to show you how He sees you. He will do it. Your eternal partner is Him if you know Him. You eternal partner is you if you know Him or not. I suggest you get to know yourself and value yourself like He does. I’m not encouraging narcissism or self-worship but we ought to be able to love our eternal partner like God does.