Love is all we need

All_We_Need_Is_LoveLove. It is a simple word. It signifies something we all so desperately want but it is also so very lacking.  Love is the most talked about subject within our culture and everything point to a significant relationship and subsequent children as the apex of love.  Yet, ultimately none of us get it. We fail to grasp love.  We all wanted be care for and are hurt when we are not.  We all desperately want to be loved and to love. It is at the core of humanity. It is why we take on pets for example, to love and be loved.

 Yet, ultimately we fail to grasp love and are really far from it. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves provides a definition of love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.” Our experience of love falls far of that definition.  Here is the reason. The definition involves no focus on self. It is looking outward toward the welfare of others. The essence of love is found in Philippians 2:3 (ESV) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.   When we love we are emptying of self. We are giving of self. We are focused on the welfare not of self, but of others.  However, we are ever self-focused.

We are wrapped up in our perception of being loved and are quick to voice when we are not engaged in behavior that is perceived as caring or loving. When we get upset, we do so when someone else has failed to engage in looking out for our welfare and did or said something we find lacking.   Such a response is even followed suit in understanding and rejecting God.  Many who reject God look at pain and suffering in the world and their own lives and conclude that a loving God could not allow such.  So they reject God. Some in that rejection will push simply engaging in looking out for the welfare of others.  The refrain is “all we need is love.” Simply look out for others and make the best world today.  Yet, lost in it all is the day to day agony when that desire of love falters.

 The fact is God does look out for our welfare. He never fails.  The rest of us fall far short.  So, yes we all need love, and love is what we all need, but if you separate that love from the author  and source of love it is but illusion. God is the only one who provides full care and love. Yes, the love does provide limits and structures, not out of cruelty, but in understanding what we need and what hurts us. We see that every day with parents and children, choices made and limits set for their welfare often in spite of great protest. Sure, any one of us can demonstrate love to others. We can do good too others apart from God. We can make the best out of life. Yet, it is making the best of what we can. But that falls far short of a life submitted to God, the source and author of love. And none of us have a grasp on God’s love. Our understanding is limited.  Yet, as you grow in understanding God, love grow. Love for God, self, and others. It comes as you grow and as you understand and grow the wounds and hurts from the damages of living life heal and allow true forward movement that in turn demonstrates the care for others found in demonstrating true love. We need love. We need God. You cannot separate the two for God is love.  So yes, all we need is love and that need is only found in God, who is love. So God is what we all need, for God is love.

Good Friday Musings: Seven common types of emotional suffering Jesus endured.

Today is Good Friday. It is the day where we commemorate the crucifixion of our redeemer. We commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was slain to take away our sins. When we consider the day, usually our focus goes toward the immense physical pain he endured, suffering for our sins. We rarely take time to focus on another dimension of his suffering, the emotional suffering. In considering this day, seven common types of emotional suffering were identified in terms of what Jesus endured. So for this article will identify a type of emotional suffering and offer commentary about what Jesus suffered. This article will conclude with even looking at a type of emotional suffering Jesus suffered that was beyond our normal experience.

Stress: This is the most common type of emotional suffering, one that we all endure. There are multiple articles and suggestions on coping with stress. In the events of Passion Week, Jesus suffered stress more extensively than any other human. His stress started with his foreknowledge what must transpire. He entered into the events with full awareness of what he was about to endure. His stress level reached the point where in praying in preparation he reached a point where he sweated blood.

Betrayal: This is another common emotional suffering we endure. At some level we are all betrayed by someone we care about and trust. For Jesus and the events of Passion Week, Jesus faced total betrayal. It starts with Judas turning Jesus over to the Sanhedrin, yet the betrayal didn’t stop there. Peter also significantly betrayed him publically three times. The betrayals of Jesus exhibited by Judas and Peter actually cover the full range of types of betrayal we endure. Judas directly and aggressively betrayed Jesus to his face. Peter’s betrayals were passive and indirect. He did not betray Jesus to his face, but yet the betrayal was still there.

Abandonment: This type of suffering is pervasive and significant in many lives. Abandonment and the fear of abandonment is a big contributor significantly to psychological distress. It is different than betrayal because it is not an outright turning against one who previously stood alongside, but rather it is simply not being there when needed. It is a failure to have needs met. Jesus definitely experienced the full range of abandonment during Passion Week as well. It started with the disciples falling asleep when asked to watch and pray and continued with the disciples simply not sticking around during the events that transpired. He was not given the support He needed and was truly alone.

Rejection: There is something about being rejected that is at a core of a lot of human emotional suffering. We each have a desperate desire to be loved and accepted as we are and not be rejected. The rejections that come in life can add up and be a source of much psychological turmoil. In actuality, one can even view the assorted types of emotional distress and being one form or rejection or another. Jesus, in Passion Week faced ultimate rejection. He faced public rejection with the cries of “Crucify Him” and even had a murderer and rebel chosen over him to be released. He had the personal rejection occur on multiple levels throughout the course of the events of Passion Week. As the Bible points out, “He was despised and rejected of men.” (Isaiah 53:1)

Humiliation: Humiliation is something many people experience at one level or another with the result of a lot of psychological damage. Bullying and harassment are important issues in this day and age. No one likes to see anyone picked on or made fun of for any reason. Jesus faced an extensive amount of humiliation. He was brought down to the lowest possible level, with his claims being made a public spectacle.

Persecution: Persecution is essentially being tortured for something that you hold to and won’t let go of. It is essentially all forums of torture. Thankfully there are only a small percentage of people today who face direct persecution. Yet, many Christians and people readily given in to the more indirect types of persecution that call for compromise. Jesus during Passion Week faced extensive persecution. He was whipped to near death, he was hit, spat upon, had a crown of thorns jammed on his head, had to carry his cross and the ultimately was executed all because of his claim of being the Son of God, Messiah.

Injustice: The world is filled with injustice and we feel the effects of it daily. Yes, innocent are killed, guilty go free, evil prospers, good suffers, the blood of innocents is shed, and more. There is no end to the injustices in this world. Passion Week is the epitome of injustice. Jesus, who did no wrong, was executed alongside common criminals. Jesus was the ultimate shedding of innocent blood. Jesus deserved nothing and faced the totality of human emotional and physical suffering. He did so out of love, for you and me so that we may be redeemed and restored to relationship with the father. Any injustice you have felt, real or perceived pales to the injustice Jesus endured, all in order to bring Salvation.

Separation from God: Jesus endured one type of suffering none of us can grasp. He was in constant communion with God the Father. Yet, at the cross, that communion, that unity, that oneness was disconnected. This led to the agonizing cry “My God, my God why have you forsaken me!” None of us can grasp what Jesus suffered because we walk in continued separation. Even today with the infilling of the Holy Spirit we only grasp a taste of what Jesus had continually. The loss of that was excruciating and in reality was more than he could bear, leading to his physical death.

In summary, reflect on the emotional suffering Jesus endured along with the physical suffering in order that we may be brought away from separation from God and into fellowship with God. The reality is that if the events of Passion Week only brought one person into renewed fellowship with God, Jesus would have still endured it all. If you are reading this, and have not yet come to accept Jesus shedding of innocent blood in order that you may be redeemed, and agreed to accept the gift, the time is not too late, so find someone you know who has accepted this gift and ask them to help you.