11 July 2012

To Know Him is To Love Myself Better

Jesus said, "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26 NLT. In another place He stated: "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other." Luke 16:13 NKJV.

At first blush, it seems our Lord was calling for us to leave everyone and everything and be completely devoted to Him. Or is it not that simplistic? Jesus also said: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV.

How can we understand these contradictory seeming commands? An ascetic can easily "hate" everyone...even himself and devote himself to God’s service alone. Yet, Jesus tempers our enthusiasm and inclination to a fanatical ego-centric selflessness and its polar extreme of self-centered feelings about our feelings.

Jesus in his simple statement drops the plumb line of loving God with your entire being, mind, and life as the first order of business.

Then, secondary, yet somehow inter-related, is to love yourself and to love others. Evidently there is no call to strict asceticism nor complete self-involvement.

Yet, if He made us, He surely understands how we function best, so this should be no surprise. This is not a contradiction or an enshrouded mystery. It is simply a divine command of "well-ordered loves" that brings us emotional—and spiritual—health. It’s the state we should daily seek to live in and it is also, by God’s design, the state in which the gifts of God’s grace grow and thrive best.

CS Lewis stated it succinctly:
"When the sun is vertically above a man he casts no shadow: similarly when we have come to the Divine meridian our spiritual shadow (that is, our consciousness of self) will vanish. " C. S. Lewis (on well-ordered loves)