Another week of headlines that makes me want to turn off the television, close the newspaper, stay off of social media and ignore the newsfeed on my computer. I can’t imagine the despair, anger and cynicism of someone whose hope does not rest in Jesus right now.
It seems to me, that when you drill it all down, it comes down to the fact that we are a fallen people and God created us with free will. Guns, by themselves, do not kill people. The person who pulls the trigger makes that choice. Cars do not kill people. The person who is drunk behind the wheel does. I do not want to start a gun control debate here. I am simply saying that evil is real and because God loves us and wants us to choose to be in relationship with him he gave us free will.
In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus said - " You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Loving God with every part of our being is an important step in the right direction. We need to be the hands and feet of God; reaching out and building relationships with the people in our neighborhoods, workplace and schools.
Part of our relationship with God and with others develops out of how we see ourselves. Loving your neighbor as yourself sounds pretty straight forward until you realize how many people today do not, in fact, love themselves. This makes it pretty difficult, if not impossible, to follow God’s command in the way it was intended.
I don’t know where you fall on the spectrum of loving yourself. At one end is total self-loathing. At the other end a healthy appreciation, acceptance and peace about who God created you to be. Regardless of where you fall in the spectrum, I need to pause here for a minute to say that you are worthy of love from others and from yourself. God did not make a mistake when he created you. Dear sister (and brother) loved by God, please hear this - you matter!
Scripture points out some pretty amazing things about you. You are created in God’s image – Genesis 1:27 * He knit you together in your mother’s womb – Psalm 139:13 * You are fearfully & wonderfully made – Psalm 139:14 * You were skillfully wrought – Psalm 139:15 * His thoughts of you are more in number than the sand – Psalm 139:18 * You are engraved on the palm of God’s hand - Isaiah 49:16 * Every hair on your head is numbered - Matthew 10:30.
The solution to the mess we are in starts with loving God and then with loving ourselves so we can love others. We are not born with prejudice. It is a learned behavior. We need to ask God to search our heart and help us to see who we really are and where our prejudices lie.
Please join me in praying Psalm 139:23-24 - Search me, oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.