Sunday, June 27, 2010

Being Loved

by Donna L. Watkins

I've been reading a book on relationships because God's shown me that we all have a different definition of what relationships are, but He has only one definition ... it's all about love. The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and then others as ourself. WOW! So all the law and the prophets rests on Love. (Matthew 22:37-40) I'd say we better get that quality down within us and make it a priority as Jesus did.

© 2010 Donna L. Watkins - Male Eastern Bluebird - Decatur, GA 

Jesus told us in Matthew 24:10-12 that in the last days "many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."

Jesus also told us we would know the real Christians by their fruit (Matthew 7:6). Galations 5:22-23 tells us what the fruits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Are we looking like the real thing? Will people know we are Christians?

Back to relationships ... we were created for relationship with God in the Garden. God realized that it wasn't good for man to be alone on earth, so He created woman for relationship. God took her out of Adam which left Adam with a missing piece. Our wives and husbands are to be our missing pieces in life. Ever wonder why God puts opposites together? So we can be whole. One flesh. But do we produce marriages that look like one flesh? Usually not, as evidenced by the divorce rate. We find our missing piece recognizing it with our hearts, then marry and begin to want our spouse to be just like us.

We generally have relationships that are with people like we are ... or with family that fits our past way of living life - the way that was programmed during our childhood, but don't you know that all programs need to be updated and relevant to new relationships. God says when we get saved we are a new creation. We are to then focus on renewing our minds (databanks) and become more Christlike because we've given our lives to Christ.

Many Christians never turn away from the "traditions of their elders" (family). We live according to a false religion, the spiritual system of the family we grew up in, which is generally not a Godly system. In order to renew our minds and grow, we must renounce the theology of the dysfunctional part of our family training and adopt the spiritual principles of God's family.

Remember the story of Jesus' mother and brothers coming and He was told they were outside and Jesus said, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" That's always bothered me, like He ignored His mother ... and I always wondered how you honor your parents with that type of attitude. What I didn't see what that after his "lesson" on this ... He could've gone outside and talked with them. Maybe it was just a "pause" for a lesson ... Jesus was always into lessons and using every opportunity as a teaching experience.

His reply wasn't to reject His natural family, but to emphasize the higher priority of His spiritual relationship to those who believe in Him. We have a higher priority than our family. When we give our lives to the Lordship of Christ, we are part of a new family that is our highest priority. We gave up our own rights to be a living sacrifice according to the will of God.

In a real sense, God's saying we need to get family support from our new spiritual family, from those who are doing His will. We have to renounce the rules of relationship we learned in our childhood years (the first spiritual system) and learn God's ways of relationship. This causes conflict, as those of us who have "withdrawn" from ungodly family relationships to get healthy know.

That's why Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law .... a man's enemies will be the members of his own household." (Matthew 10)

This is another verse that puzzled me since we are to honor our parents. Obviously the word honor is defined much more differently than we define it having been bred within our own family's commandments. Think back to what your family code includes. What commandments were drilled into you? List them. Do they match up with God's ways of relationships?

Jesus said, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37) Tough words, but we have to choose between following "the traditions of our elders" or following God's ways of love, mercy and grace, things that most people did not grow up in within the kingdom of the family.

We must seek out people who walk the Kingdom way before us modeling the likeness of God, so we can walk behind them. Are our relationships helping us grow into the image of Jesus? Saying no to bad relationships and yes to good ones is difficult if you are tied to the bad. One of the ways I've been focusing on walking in Kingdom ways in my life is to focus on the fruits of the Spirit mentioned above. Are these qualities evident in the people we surround ourselves with? Are we building them into the relationships we nourish? If not ... it's something to ponder.

We can run about using our gifts and doing good ... but in effect, it's all religion because God says people will know us by our fruit. I heard one preacher speak the other day that we need to put away our Bible (and knocking people over the head with Scripture) and produce enough fruit in our lives that Christ will be recognized in us and that will draw more men to Christ than our words. That's how it works in raising children, isn't it? They watch who you are and become what you do. "Don't do as I do, just do as I say" doesn't work in reality.

It's the "goodness of God that draws men to repentance (Romans 2:4). Love, grace and mercy draws us. Human nature does not follow rules easily. Laws make us realize that without Christ (love and mercy) we are hopeless. Loving God gives us a spirit and desire for obedience. It's not the list of rules posted on the wall that will make an obedient child. It's the love that makes a child want to obey his parents and makes life good, purposeful and fulfilling.

It's love that will do that for us. Christ told us the most important thing to do ... because He knew we would be doers, always thinking and reasoning that we must DO to be accepted, so He gave us something to do ... love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbor as ourself. That's a big task just loving ourself, which I don't think can be done without loving God, and we surely can't love our neighbor before we love God and ourselves. So ... do you think your "to do list" reflects what Christ is telling us to do?

Selah (which means pause and ponder this).

Recommended Book:  Changes That Heal

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