The Cross Is The Bridge To Authentic Love

All humans have 2 things in common, we all have a desire to love and we all have a desire to be loved. It’s how we were created. As a result our culture has an infatuation with the idea of love. Love is big business. Turn on the radio and most songs are written about it. Movies revolve around it. Our culture is so thirsty for a love they cannot find, their excepting the counterfeit the world is giving them. So people are turning to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram for approval and validation. Social Media can be a good thing, we get to see pictures of family and friends that live out of town. We can pray and encourage one another. But there’s a flip side that can put us on unstable ground. My friend is a high school teacher and she overheard one of her students say she went to bed depressed because she only got 11 likes. This young girl is getting her self worth from Facebook. It’s not just the young.

People are comparing themselves to others on social media and their depressed and suicidal. This may seem ridiculous to some but it’s a real crises. I looked up some facts and statistics from different Psychologist on the fall out of social media, here is what i found:

* Their are masses of individuals seeking followers, likes, retweets, and whatever other show of approval exist out there.

*People are using social media to project an idealized version of themselves out into the world. The problem is that such extreme focus on self has a tendency to spill over into self-obsession.

* This goes far beyond people taking to many photos of themselves, their lives become one big highlighted reel, however irrelevant to their social media audience, it becomes a source of self-promoting content.

*They’ve learned that sharing gets them validation, which feels good, so they continue to share. Every like and re-tweet gives the brain a small rush of dopamine comparable to a tiny hit of coke.

The yearning for validation and significance is so pronounced and strong that we are becoming addicted to social media for approval, love, and our self-worth. We now have an audience to preform for. We show the best and hide the rest. It’s a false identity that can either bring us into a state of depression because we didn’t get a lot of likes or a high or rush from an over abundant amount of likes. The sad thing is some of this attention that people are getting and yearning for on social media are superficial and insincere. Have you ever just hit the like button just because, but not really caring because you’ve seen their pic a hundred times. I know someone that if you looked at their life on FB you would never think for a minute that inside their home is abuse, drugs, pain and lots of tears. It’s very sad.

Brennan Manning says, “There is a cry of the heart for intimate belonging.” He says, there’s an imposter who is sly and seductive, he persuades us to forsake our “true self”, Abba’s beloved child. He wants us to get our identity from, performance, people pleasing, or a glittering image that must be preserved at all cost, or these days social media.
The imposter or the false self is very preoccupied with acceptance and approval. Intimacy with God has faded into the distance. The whispering of the Spirit has been drowned out by the deafening of applause.

This false self was born when as children we were not loved well. The fear of human disapproval, or negative words spoken over us. Or shame. It’s characterized as loss of identity. The false self suppresses or camouflages feelings, making emotional honesty impossible, so we stagger into each day with an insatiable appetite for affirmation.

But God… With a graciousness and understanding of human weakness that only God can exhibit, Jesus liberates us from any childhood fear, self-condemnation, insecurities, and offers each of us a new possibility. Jesus is the Son of compassion. We belong to Him, and no one can tear us from His hand. As we read the gospels, we discover that the people Jesus encounters there, are you and me.

The heart of Jesus and your true self is this: His immense love for you is essential of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitutes your worth. Accept that, and let it be the most important thing in your life. I can promise you that one day you will wake up an not feel so loved and accepted because of something you said or did. The enemy wants you to believe that. Not God, He is the lifter up of our heads. Know this, how God sees you is eternal. You can’t see it or feel it, but it never changes. You have been made right with God because of the blood of Jesus. Period. Change your identity and you change your life.

If you live by peoples approval you will die by their rejection. I know, I’ve been there, craving approval. It’s debilitating, and was crippling to my walk with Jesus. I’ve learned only through experience of loving all people, seeing the fruit of what acceptance and love can bring to the outcast, the rejected ones. I have a gay son that has taught me more about love and grace then any sermon I have ever heard. I will choose heart knowledge over head knowledge any day. Jesus always put flesh and blood around a scripture. So beautiful. Approval of people means nothing to me anymore. God’s heart is what matters now. Such freedom. My identity is now this: Because of the blood of Jesus with all my flaws, He sees me as a child Redeemed by Christ. I now know and believe that the cross is the bridge to authentic love. No other will do. Oh, how the world needs to know this love. And how can we know what love is if we don’t know who love is. JESUS IS LOVE.

The only one that can truly satisfy the human heart is the one who made it. His love is so different than any love you will find on this planet. It cannot be matched. It’s the love that people have been searching for, they just don’t know it. Somehow, someway, we have to get people to understand the cross still means love.

If we took a poll today and asked, “What does the cross represent”? Can you imagine the answers we would get. To some it represents “hate”, “religion”, the church that kicked me out when I was a teenager because I didn’t talk right, look right. To some it means exclusion, less then. It’s so heart breaking and tragic. We have to re-clarify for people and ourselves what the cross really means. There is earthly love that is so fractured and broken, and there’s Jesus agape- reckless love- ridiculous love- illogical love, unearned not because what we do, but because what he did for us kind of love.

Let’s wear it well. I talk about God’s love a lot. I can’t help it. I would shout it from the rooftops if I could. I mean, Jesus suffered and died a horrific death to reconcile humanity back to God by taking all of our sin and shame, He nailed it to the cross. he now sees us as righteous, without blemish and free from any accusation. (Col.1:22) Becoming empty, powerless, needing and wanting to know God. You don’t have to ask twice. He is there to rescue, to save, to come along side of us on this journey of life. The cross,it represents so much. Forgiveness of sins, His life is now my life, no separation, ever. Mercy, Grace, and a Love that holds us close, whispers in our ear. Carries us when we can’t walk. It was never about perfection, or rules that bring death.

No more living from what do I have to do to be loved and accepted by you God, but rather, I live from what He has already done for me. I pray from a place of acceptance instead of praying for acceptance. And so should you. You don’t need someone to validate you anymore. The cross has validated you. We don’t have to work our way up to God, He worked his way down to us. God sent us a living breathing Savior to show us who He is. LOVE. I also believe that He walked the earth among broken people to show us how to be human. How to love. How to forgive. He never shamed anyone, ever. He walked in humility. Came as a servant. Love the outcast. His friends were diverse. He ate with them, and showed them respect and kindness. His whole time on earth He fought against the establishment, those that judged and hated others. He broke His own laws when the love of a human being demanded it. He made it so simple…

We can make God in our own image by thinking he hates the people we hate, and only loves the people we love. Rather, Jesus showed us how to love and live in the world that he died for. The hierarchy of christian truth for me will always be mercy. I need it so desperately every single day.

WHEN YOUR CONFIDENT OF GOD’S LOVE, YOU ARE FREE TO LOVE ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE JUST LIKE JESUS. YOUR WORLD IS SPACIOUS AND LARGE. YOU HAVE A PEACE. YOU SEE IN THE FACE OF OTHERS THE IMAGE OF GOD. IT’S BEAUTIFUL, IT’S FREEING, IT’S THE GOSPEL. GOD’S IS SMILING:)

I’ve read how Jesus puts him arms around those the religious hated and judged and says,” I love you, I won’t shame you, I”ll protect you.” Come on my child, lets work on this together, I see your thirsty, I have this Living Water to give you that will fill you for the rest of your life. I only ask that you trust me, and Oh, by the way, you can take that mask off with me. I see it all and I still love you.

Religion will always make us hide because we feel like we can never measure up, so we wear a mask to feel safe even though we’re suffocating, to feel stronger even though we’re so weary. The problem with the mask is that the mask gets loved and not the person behind the mask. The perfection mask. The pedigree mask. The people pleasing mask. The know it all mask. I have to be who you say I am mask in order to be loved by you. Truth is- God created only one you, and you bring something unique and wonderful to the world that no one else can bring. The mask cheats us from that. The mask cheats us from authentic relationships and from being who God created us to be.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WORD FOR GOD IS MYSTERY- I DON’T NEED TO KNOW OR TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

I know people that in spite of their vulnerability, they share their struggles, good times, bad times, failures, ups and downs. Sometimes life gets so hard I see them holding to Jesus by just a thread. But their holding on. They are my hero’s. Their real, sincere, and it’s refreshing to be around them, 99% of the world can relate to them. They’ve learned that fitting in is not what it’s all cracked up to be. Your in good company. Jesus. Jesus never cared about fitting in. Scripture shows us over and over how much God cares and loves those who have felt rejected and cast out. Have you noticed He is always for the underdog.

Just a few examples:

Boaz was Jewish, Ruth was a Moabite, Moabites were not welcome in Israel. Boaz promised to protect her and let her glean food from his fields. Boaz said, “I will love her anyway.” He ends up marrying Ruth. Boaz’s “love” for Ruth is described as “hesed”, the Hebrew word for God’s own covenant love for his people. Ruth the Moabite is recorded as an ancestor of Jesus.

The Gentiles were considered a lesser breed of people. God new it would be hard for Peter to minister the New Covenant to them. That they would be made clean by the blood of Jesus too. So, God gives Peter a vision of animals that the Jews regarded as unclean. A voice from heaven says, “rise and eat”, Peter protested against God and said, “I’ve never eaten anything that’s unclean Lord.” The voice from heaven again spoke and said, “What God has cleansed you must not call common”!

I could go on and on because there is a thread of God’s love for humanity all through scripture. Let’s way it… We can scrounge around for people’s approval that changes by the second, or, we can have intimate belonging knowing that God’s approval of us never changes.

Just give me Jesus…He allowed himself to be vulnerable to criticism, horrific abuse, and death of a cross. The religious leader and even his own family accused him of being drunk, demon possessed, and a heretic. ALL BECAUSE HE LOVED SINNERS AND THE OUTCAST AND HEALED ON THE WRONG DAYS ACCORDING TO THEM.THEY WERE SO INTO THE RULES THEY MISSED THE MIRACLES THAT WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. THE SAME IS TRUE TODAY.

Vulnerability doesn’t mean your weak. The opposite is true. It takes courage and strength to be vulnerable, to show your scars. It takes courage to walk away from your tribe, but you know it’s the only way you can be free for God. To love without having to explain why, or ask permission. Your whole walk with God will be in question. It’s ok, so was Jesus’.

Henri Nouwen says: Grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and broken by life.

Our hope, the world’s hope is in the cross. It = indiscriminate love, and intimate belonging like no other. Everyone deserves to have intimate belonging by a God who loves unconditionally.

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