“Love is trust, complete, thoughtless, instinctive, self-defining trust. Love is the biblical “charity” – the pure love of Christ. Love is light.” – Scott Stover
I discovered this morning that, when I pray, I am using Christ. I go to Him for comfort – to tell me that I’m ok. I go to Him seeking judgment. Why? Because I’m unsure of myself. Am I measuring up? Am I worthy? Am I on the road to salvation – which only He can give?
I asked myself, “Is this really the basis of my relationship with Christ – Him as the judge? Furthermore, is this what my relationship with Him should be? If I love Him, truly love Him, is it only because of what He has done for me? Or is it only because of what He has promised to do for me?”
I saw a little selfie video this morning of my wife and daughter with bears’ ears and noses painted on their faces, and their voices were artificially high pitched. I guess it’s called “Shapchat”, and it was just…cute. I realized (again) at that time that I love my wife solely for who she is. Guileless, forgiving, trusting and trustworthy, smart, funny, and so innocent and child-like that, even at 67 years old, she can still joyously make silly videos with her daughter and post them on facebook. I don’t love her just for what she has done, or for what she can do, for me. I love her because I recognize the perfect beauty in who she is.
Yet, when I profess to love Jesus, the Christ, do I love Him for who He IS, or do I love Him for the power He supposedly holds over me? Do I love Him because He is infinitely knowledgeable, guileless, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, empathetic, kind, funny, honest, and trustworthy ( in other words, loving), or do I love Him because of what I think He can do for me, for what I think He must do for me if I am to avoid eternal damnation? Is my love for Him conditional or unconditional?
When I pray to Him, do I approach Him with an “I’m not worthy, less than the dust of the earth, please redeem me” type attitude, or do I approach Him because of who He is, and because I just want to know Him, without any expectation of reward? What would He prefer?
Comparison (the source of all “I’m not worthy” thoughts) against some standard, whether that standard be Christ, or other people, or a standard of behavior (commandments) always perpetuates separation. If we compare ourselves to the western, Grego-Roman, “Christian” image of Christ, we conclude that we are unequal. If we compare ourselves to other people, all such comparisons yield inequality – we are either better or worse than they are. If we compare ourselves to some standard, we either exceed or fall short, but this also implies comparison to others, or if the standard is Christ, then it implies comparison to Him. This is NOT love. As long as we live and think, even love, based on comparison, we can never be one with Christ or with each other.
I want to learn to approach Christ without all this baggage. I want to learn to believe Him. I want to learn to know Him, and to love Him for who He is, not for what He can or must do for me. I don’t want to carry guilt with me as I approach Him every day. I don’t think I need to. He knows me. He knows my desires, my thoughts, my actions, my fears. Why do I need to bring that imperfection into my relationship with Him? Do I think He holds those things over my head? Honestly, I don’t think He does. I think He loves me for who I am, as well as for who I desire to become (which is, of course, part of who I am). I truly believe that learning to love like this, not only in our relationship with Christ, but with all creation, is somehow the key to eternal life; to divinity; to salvation, redemption, sanctification – to all these words that we seem to perceive that we are perpetually striving for and falling short of. I truly believe these things are all within us. The denial of these things is a tool of the ego – the natural man – to keep us from truly knowing and loving Christ and each other; from becoming one with Him and each other, because once we truly love Christ, and are one with Him, the ego no longer controls us. The natural man becomes an enemy with no power. Once we truly love Christ, and are one with Him, without all the baggage that results from living in a world of comparison, with its guilt, sorrow, fear – a world of our own making – then we can know the joy of existence that is our true inheritance – our immediate inheritance.
Teaching us this; showing us this; is the purpose of Jesus in becoming the Christ. Will we believe Him? This is the bitter cup that He drank from. This was (is – the job is not yet finished) the will of the Father. It’s all there in the scriptures, but it’s all in metaphor. Christ overcame death because He overcame the ego – the natural man, the fallen man. He overcame the separation that resulted from the fall. And He showed us that it can be done. In this way, he is “the way”. In this way, He is the light and the life of the world. I want to know Him, but I don’t want to “use” Him. I want to love Him unconditionally, just as He loves me unconditionally. And I want to learn to love all men unconditionally, just as He does. He invites us all to do this.