Jesus summed up all that the law and prophets had recorded in the Old Testament in the Two Great Commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”[Luke 10:27] We don’t need the Ten Commandments or all the laws of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy, if we follow these two guiding principles. For it is in loving God with all of ourselves and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, that we cannot violate any other law that God has ordered.
How do I see this working? Well, first of all, it takes a great effort to bring our full and whole selves—warts and all– before the Lord in love. It requires us to bring our whole selves out into the open, no longer trying to hide some things we did or that were done to us. It means we have to tear down the walls that we have built within us to hide our guilt and shame. We have to acknowledge and embrace, or at least accept all of who we are, all that we have done. We must be cleansed of all that we’re embarrassed about, acknowledging that it was we who did these things or others who did them to us.
It takes an enormous, faithful effort to bring all this stuff before the Lord and to accept his love and forgiveness. We are the Prodigal sons and daughters, at the end of our free-will spree of sinful living, who decide that we would at the very least like to live in our true home with our Parent/God as a servant than to continue one more day as a slave to the world. This is no easy task: it is embarrassing and distressing; it belies everything we’ve tried to say about ourselves in our lives; it takes a prodigious belief in the providence of God to even entertain taking this step.
Think of the Prodigal Son of the parable. He must have been covered in guilt and shame for spending his whole inheritance and having nothing to show for it. He must have decided that he would take whatever punishment his father would unleash on him; it was worth it to be home.
And what did he get for his repentance? What punishment did his father mete out? Nothing. Not only was there no punishment, he was greeted with open arms. His father had been keeping an eye out in case he returned. And then he threw a celebration for his errant son’s return! It must have been dizzying for that lost son to not get the punishment he felt he deserved.
So the first step is to do a 180 degree turn and leave the “sin” in the past, accept God’s love and forgiveness, then accept and forgive ourselves. God will do the healing of the past. He will transform us into the people he created each of us to be, if only we will put our whole selves in his hands. He will then teach us how to love, how to have patience, how to live in joy, how to be at peace and how to exemplify all the fruit of the Spirit. I believe that this is our purpose on this Earth—to so live with the fruit of the Spirit as our method in all things we are called to say and to do—so that we demonstrate God’s kingdom here on Earth by how we are and how we do everything.
Another way to put this is that we have to get over ourselves, that is our small selves, and to move into the larger, soulful self that is buried within our unconscious, to bring it forward in our lives so that the small self now serves the larger one, and at the same time serves God.
That’s the first step. The second one is to be healed and transformed into people who can love and pour that same love that is God’s out to everyone else. We have to first be people who are loved, before we can love others. It is only in our healing of all the guilt and shame and defensiveness and sin that we move from the potential to love to the actual capacity to love.
Can you see how loving ourselves and others can take care of all the negativity in the 10 Commandments? Why would there be envy or greed, avarice or dishonor, murder or adultery, theft, or lies, if we feel loved, forgiven, accepted for who we are? Why would we worship other gods? Or have addictions? Or not keep the Sabbath? Or misuse the name of the Lord? All envy, greed, dishonor, murder, adultery, theft and lies stem from a person who is racked with guilt, shame in their own unforgivable selves, staunchly refusing to accept the truth about themselves and feeling free to offend or steal or whatever other sin they want to indulge in. They can’t accept who they are; they are angry at what was done to them; they are afraid of rejection—all this drives their behavior to the negative towards themselves and others.
Once we accept the truth about ourselves, hit bottom on our addictions or any behaviors that limit our relationship with God, then begin the climb back into our own good graces and ultimately into God’s as well. As we make that 180 degree turn away from the past problematic behavior, then we begin to live out of the love and forgiveness that God offers us. And then we begin to really live.
And we really begin to love, because God is working with us as we turn more and more to him. And eventually, as we persist in our relationship to God and in accepting and embracing all that we are, then we become what we are praying to become—so attached to the Lord that we no longer want anything else. We have given over ourselves to the Lord and follow him in all things. We are living out our purpose. We are free in all things because we put God first in everything.
Blessing for the week: May we be the people who go all the way with God to where we are gifted with the fruit of the Spirit, to where we are living out our purpose, to where we live in love and peace and joy. May we give our all to God.
Questions to ponder over the week: What still protects me from a full-out relationship with God? What walls? What stories do I hang onto? Am I turning over more and more of who I am to God to direct and support and cherish? On a scale of 1 to 100 how much of myself do I trust to God’s providence?
I am so proud to announce that my book, Thy Kingdom Come! is up on Amazon in both a paperback and a digital version. Look for it under my full name, Patricia Said Adams, or Patricia Adams. There are three parts to the book: I)Jesus’ descriptions of the kingdom of God, II)his teachings about how we get into the kingdom and III)implications for us in all that he taught. See a summary of it at my website, bythewaters.net/offerings or check it out on Amazon if you’re interested!
Read the whole blog at bythewaters.net or await Monday’s thru Friday’s offerings on FB. I’m on YouTube at By the Waters with Pat Adams and on Twitter at BTWwithPatAdams.