Fact: Life is hard.
So is math... well for me at least. English was always my strong point. Hence blogs and not algorithms.
Even so, I want to throw out a math analogy.
Life is difficult. Math is difficult (for me at least).
But both have answers.
When math got hard for me in school I got someone who was really good at it (most often my REALLY smart friend/math teacher Kelly) to help me. When life is hard, I try remember that the Creator of all life is always there to help figure out the answer.
Don't you sometimes say that life is tough? I know I do... ore often than I care to admit. Honestly though, its not really complaining, and its more than a phrase. It’s a truth. Life is hard... a LOT of the time. things don't go the way they are supposed to. Plans fail. Plans change. People let you down. You know it. I know it... and guess what? God knows it. He even TELLS us.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33
Well, if you're inquisitive, curious, or just downright nosey like me, that verse leads your mind straight to another question. WHY? Why is life so hard? (I know I ask this... and am asked this by my patients at work on a daily basis.) The answer? One word. SIN.
Life is only difficult because of sin. Don't believe that? Let's take a look back. Before sin, life was perfect. Seriously, it was. Go back and check out chapter 2 of Genesis. PERFECTION. Then, sin enters the world in chapter 3 of Genesis and literally all hell breaks loose.
Look at the first command from Jesus.
We are told to love God with all our heart, mind and soul.
In reality, that’s simple, it’s just not easy. (A distinction that we sometimes fail to see.)
Why is it so difficult? Well, it all comes down to one thing. SIN. Because of sin, we put ourselves before God. Because of sin, we love ourselves more than God. Because of the sin that we allow and even, at times, seek out in our lives... and because of sin in the lives of those around us.
But, let’s suppose for a moment that we actually did live out this commandment and that life was just this simple. Let’s assume that we did our best to love God first and foremost. THEN everything would be easy, right? Easy, no. Simple, yes.
What about that second commandment: loving our self and our neighbor?
This is really just a math equation. Basically, this commandment is 1 + 1 = 3
Three? Yep... three. (And no, this isn't my struggle with mathematics rearing its ugly head again.) Let me quote Jesus…”follow me”. I'm going somewhere with this. Promise.
You see, when Christ gives us that second command to love self and neighbor, He is assuming that you are already following that first command to love God first and totally. Because if you don’t love God first, than your love of self is selfish. If God is first, your love of self honors Him as His creation and those things you don’t “like” about yourself or are not proud of about yourself are put in proper perspective.
And, if you don’t love God first, than that whole “love your neighbor” thing won’t work either…without God you’ll only love those who love you, not those who it is difficult to love. (See my post called honor for some enlightening thoughts on loving the unlovable.) Anyway, if you only love when you receive love, you're giving a counterfeit love. Its not sincere. I mean if we need God to help us love Him and ourselves, OF COURSE we need him to help us love OTHER people.
No, if you (or I) want our love to be sincere, the answer is simple…it’s just not easy. Before you try to love yourself or others, you have to love God (and let Him love you back).
And that’s the beginning and end of our math lesson…1 + 1 = 3.
If you love God and have Him number “1” in your life, and then you join your love to His (another “1”) the effects of your love will spread to another person (#3).
Still can’t wrap your head around that math? That’s because love is a decision, but not only a movement of the head. Its a sacrificial reality of the heart. Don’t think about the equation; pray about it. The same goes for scripture. Don’t just read Scripture…pray it. Live it. There's a BIG difference there. Before you know it, 1 + 1 = 3 will make more sense to you than the worldly, logical notion of 1 + 1 =2.
My prayer, and one of my biggest desires for my life is that such finite love will die at some point. Only the infinite love of God is forever. Its so simple... but so far from easy. Even so, THATS what I'm really after.