I want to share some of my thoughts which are triggered by some comments over at Jordy’s blog and also by reading Darrin Hufford's God’s honest truth.
We buy fat removed, chemically processed, pasteurized, homogenized milk from super markets. We buy ‘I can’t believe its butter’, synthetic butter, and we like its taste. We don’t even know how the real, unprocessed milk is like, do we? I think there are people who don’t even know that milk comes from cows, they think milk comes from super markets. We are so accustomed to the synthetic stuff over the years that we became immune to it [I recently read some where that they use the molecular formula of plastic to make some of the synthetic food produces. In other words, if we go to the molecular level of some food we eat, we will find plastic!]. Most likely we wouldn’t like the real milk and the real butter anymore, even if it's available. We don’t like the milk without chemicals, juice without additives, we like it to be with preservatives added from antibiotic and hormone-treated cows and pesticide treated fruits. My parents own cows and when I went to India last year, they gave me real milk (not chemically processed, just boiled) and honestly I didn’t like it. I almost threw-up.
We have never seen and tasted real love and real kindness. Life in this world, over the years of our lifetime, made us believe that the counterfeit love and kindness is what it is like. We all believe that ‘there is no free lunch’. If someone really shows us true kindness, we immediately become nervous. Our thoughts would be ‘what is he expecting from me’ or ‘how I am going to pay this back’. We don’t like to receive and it is true that in almost all cases the word ‘free’ comes with strings attached.
A few years ago, we received a big check (more than what we expected) for our tax returns, my wife and I immediately thought, ‘How much should we give back to God?’. We believed God blessed us with that money and He expects something in return. When a family invites us for dinner, our immediate thought is, when are we going to invite then in return. We love the word ‘free’ but when the rubber meets the road, we become nervous and insecure.
Why is it a struggle for us to receive unconditional love, unconditional kindness and unconditional mercy from God?
• It’s too good to be true
• We have learned all our life everything in this world comes with conditions
• The word ‘unconditional’ makes us nervous and insecure
• We are prideful and not ready to agree that we are in need of real love and real kindness.
• God's love lacks complexity
• We are so used to the imitations, and we don’t really know what the real thing looks like
God blesses us with home, car, children, money, job, new skills, grace, salvation but with the ‘fair-trade’ mentality we think God expect us to serve Him back with those. We see Him as a smart salesman who first gives us something free only to earn our business so he can accomplish big things from us later. Isn't that the reason we hear people say, 'God blessed me with so and so that I should serve Him now'?
It is so hard for us to believe that God blesses us because He blesses us. We are His children. He gives us because He gives to His children. He loves us because He loves His children. There are no strings attached. People spend their time figuring out should they give 10% of their gross income or net income to God. What it tells me is that God lets them have a job and earn salary so He gets His tithe. It is such a distorted view of His love and blessings. A whole branch of theology has emerged from this perversion: if you sow your seed you will reap; if you are not ready to sow, don't expect anything from God! This really grieves my heart...
As soon as we figure out we are saved, what is our next thought? How can we serve Him back! Where is that thought coming from? We didn’t believe in His unconditional love in the first place. We didn’t believe that He saved us because He saved us. We thought He saved us so He can get us to serve Him, as though He need our service. Isn’t that a picture of a self-seeking God? [By the way, as we understand His unconditional love and grace for us, we will naturally tell and share our blessings with others, but that is not a 'service'. To see it as a service would be like an apple serving it's tree]
I used to put 'In His Service' at the end of my email signatures (it's funny that I do it only when I write email to believers!). It is as if I am an employee of God. God didn't create a bunch of employees to work for Him, He created a bunch of kids to be in an authentic relationship with Him.
People say that they are 'committed' to serve God. What an illogical statement is that? First of all, we cannot serve God and He doesn't need our service. Secondly, when we say 'committed', doesn't it mean that we didn't really want to do it but because of my 'commitment' I am doing it. In other words, I am so good that I commit myself to serve Him. It is like telling 'I am committed to my wife', which means I really want to cheat but I am refraining myself from it because I am 'good' and 'committed'.
It's an exaggeration. The relationship between a husband and wife has to be based on love and it has to be naturally authentic. I don't think God intended the marriage to be a 'sacrifice'. But we exaggerate it as supernatural by telling others that we are 'committed', thereby removing the authenticity of marriage relationship. I have heard people bragging that they have a 'successful' marriage of 20, 30 or 50 years because of their 'commitment' and 'sacrifice'. If I am a teenager and listening to them, this is what I would be thinking in my mind: They consider it 'successful' because it was supposed to fail. They didn't live together all these years naturally (that they wanted to) but, because of their commitment and sacrifice, they simply chose not to divorce but to tolerate each other. Isn't that the reason they said 'it wasn't easy but we hung in there'?
As a teenager I already made up my mind after hearing it: marriage is not easy and all marriages are supposed to fail and there is only a rare chance that one will 'succeed'. No wonder we have divorce rates sky-rocketing!
We hear people say, "Use me, Lord", "We will be careful to give you all the glory". God wasn't planning to "use" me when He saved me, for heaven's sake! Can you imagine, my son or daughter coming and telling me to "use" him or her? It certainly doesn't sound like love to me. I can't imagine God is self-seeking glory from everything we do or everything we have. He is not seeking glory from the food we eat, the money He gave us, the home He blessed us with. He gives to us because He loves us and when He gives, He gives freely. It's like I giving toys and cloths to my kids. What would I think if they run around and tell everybody that 'they are careful to give all the glory to their Dad'? I gave them because they are my children, we have a relationship, I want them to enjoy the stuff they received and I do not expect anything in return.
What is love like? the real love, not the counterfeit. Is it a fare-trade? Or is it UNCONDITIONAL? Is it self-seeking? Or is it selfless?
Bible says, God's love is like this (which sounds like the real stuff):
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
We struggle to simply receive this love because we are unimaginably prideful, arrogant, ego-centered and ignorant. We don't like to receive it, we like to earn it. Are we ready to simply receive this love without feeling obligated that we should do something in return which defies the logic that love is NOT self-seeking?
I think we all need to learn the act of receiving, not earning or giving. We have no problem to earn or to give, but we cringe to receive. God only wants the people who cannot repay Him. The thought that we can repay Him in itself is an oxymoron.
Matthew quoted Charles Spurgeon in his comments:
"perhaps it's hard to receive salvation because it's so easy."
I agree. God's love is unimaginably easy, simple, pure, genuine, real and agape. We can only receive it. And once it is in our life, be ready to be in awe and wonder because it is so ridiculously unbelievable, but at the same time, so very real...
"My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it." - Brennan Manning