14 October 2012

Increase Your Capacity To Love

No one can possibly see another person from God's point of view without accepting the simple facts. It doesn't matter if you don't understand or can't wrap your mind around what God has done. All that's left to do is trust in God's love and forgiveness, then you'll be able to truly love the people around you.
You can never truly love someone until you see them without sin.

This one simple idea will be the new foundation of your Christian life. In the New Testament (and present-day circles) it's called "grace" (Rom 5:12-21). In the Old Testament it was called "unfailing love" (Gen 32:9-10). However, if you don't understand these two terms, nothing God has done will ever make much sense. If you don't accept unfailing love, then you'll never be able to see God's people the way Jesus sees you.

What is grace or unfailing love? It's the realization that Jesus died for all sin. It's the simple idea that God no longer counts sin against his people and that he loves you no matter what. It's that simple, but it's so misunderstood.

The problem is Christians don't believe anyone is forgiven until they accept forgiveness. So, in their human eyes, forgiveness is only made available to those that accept Jesus as their Lord. This elitist point of view says only people who believe in Jesus (Christians) are who Jesus died for; no one else. But, this isn't true. I thought Jesus died for everyone?? Didn't he take on all sin and nail it to the cross? Well, that's the real question, isn't it?

Do you believe Jesus died for all sin? Do you actually believe his blood was good enough to cover the worst of sinners? Do you think his sacrifice covered those that don't believe in Christ? The idea that you must first accept forgiveness in order to be forgiven is the root of the problem. We've been fooled by Christian leaders over time to believe that no one is forgiven until they receive Jesus. However, Jesus died on the cross and forgave all people before we were born or even had the chance to commit a single wrong-doing (Col 2:13-15). So, there's something definitely not right about what is being taught.

So, when did you receive forgiveness? Was it when you asked Jesus into your heart? Or, was it when Jesus died on the cross? Some believers say you actually received forgiveness when you died on the cross with Christ (Gal 2:19-21). Those that do believe in grace trust that everyone is completely forgiven and all have received the inheritance whether they proclaim Jesus or not.

Honestly, accepting this fact is the foundation of a life in Christ. If you view others as not having forgiveness, then you will never be able to see anyone without sin. More importantly, if you view forgiveness as only reserved for certain individuals (Christians), then you will never truly love a non-Christian (2 Cor 5:14-15). No matter what they do right or wrong, you will always see them as inferior scumbag sinners. Granting forgiveness to everyone around you opens doors to a whole new world you've never been introduced to before.

Allowing ourselves to see with God's eyes helps us love others in ways we never thought possible. You may not believe me when I say this, but now that I look at other people without sin, I don't expect anyone to say "I'm sorry" when they do something to hurt me. Of course I may not like it, but since Jesus doesn't require me to ask forgiveness from him, I extend that same privilege to everyone else. When people do say they're sorry, I remind them that they're already forgiven. You have no idea what kind of beautiful conversations this leads to. The tone of their response is, "What kind of love is this??" And, I reply, "It's my Father's."

We're all God's children. We're all made from Love to be love. And, there's really no other way to see it.

Although, we may perceive what's right and wrong, God never intended us to (Gen 2:15-17). He no longer wants you to see the good and bad in people. He only wants you to recognize his love in others. When you view God's people as spotless perfect beings, then you can no longer focus on the things they do. All that's left is to love them for who they really are - little samples of God (Gen 1:26-27).

Jesus simply came as a witness to show us what Love looks like. He set the example of what a Christian should say and do. Now, we have the easy job of following his lead. Except you don't look for him outwardly like the disciples did. You search for him on the inside (John 16:7-11). Once you find him, you start noticing beautiful people all around you.

I used to judge people based on their performance. At first, we all do this. We define people by their appearance, the words they use, and their actions. It's just part of human nature. However, God says don't pay attention to these things. Sure, you may be able to judge a person by their fruit, but you're not seeing the real them (Gal 5:22-26). The real truth lies underneath their skin. And the only way you can penetrate that layer is through the Spirit (2 Cor 5:16-19).

About 3 years ago, while reading a popular Christian book, everything changed for me. Jesus began showing me how much he loved and forgave me of all the stupid stuff I've done wrong. I used to beat myself up so badly because the church said I better do it right, or else. I kept trying so hard to do the right things, but I'd end up failing no matter how hard I tried. I hated myself sometimes and I'd unknowingly share the hate with the people around me. No one ever told me how I treated others was directly related with how I treated myself. With this new found awareness, I finally started giving myself a break.

As time went on, Jesus would reveal more and more about what he thought of me. Yet, what he said was too hard to believe. It was way too good to be true. I never had much encouragement growing up and no one said things like he did. You should hear some of the things he told me (and still does)! But, I took to it like a sponge. I had no choice. You just have to accept what your Father tells you.

Finally, he told me clear as day, "Now, share what I've told you with others. Love on them the same way I love on you." But, he didn't stop there. The last thing he said is what really choked me up. He finished with this, "Thank you for believing me." I knew what he meant. He didn't mean thank you for believing in him. He was thanking me for believing what he said.

You can't possibly love anyone around you unless you love yourself, first. The only way to grow your capacity to love others is to acknowledge more of the love God has for you (Luke 7:47). When you can love and accept yourself, then you grow to love others so much more.

Jesus left us with one command to fulfill all his instructions. Ok, there's really two: 1) Love yourself and 2) Love others (Gal 5:13-14). The measure you use to love yourself will be the same measure you extend to someone else. Grace is the foundation of the Christian life and without it, you can't possibly see and love the way you were created to (Mat 7:24-29). Seeing others the way God sees them is the only way this can be achieved.

Now, all I see is beautiful people everywhere.


Daniel Botwin said...

I see beautiful people! =)
Great post.

Anonymous said...

Thsnk you for making me think about the importance of loving others just the way they are! It is so true. Loving ourselves only comes from knowing God loves us no matter what we do. This is so hard for us to accept. Trying to understand it is beyond our comprehension and the more we try to figure out how much God loves us, the harder I believe it is to just accept what He says about us and what He did for us and continues to do for us. We are all so special in our own way! They are so many beautiful people in this world. I appreciate the encouragement!!!

Dathan Ellis said...

Thanks Daniel!

@Anonymous I know it's really hard when we've been programmed all our lives to believe a lie. I have to dwell on things for weeks (even months) just to get the smallest concept.

Allison said...

I think this one is my favorite post thus far! Was is at all directed at some of the things I've been chatting with you lately about? :) I hope so, but even if its not, I loved this post! My capacity for love increased just by reading it! :)

Dathan Ellis said...

It really wasn't my intention even though we've been chatting about it. I've been sitting on this discovery for awhile, but it just takes time for me to work out the details and have the boldness to write it down. Most of the time I have to first acknowledge something way before it makes any sense. I needed to hear it made a difference. Thank you!