For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Col. 1:29
You and I have been created with the energy to create energy. This energy will either be wasted, or put towards the purpose of God in your life.
For example, according to FactRetriever.com, “every day, the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, that is equivalent to driving to the moon and back.”
Whether this is true or not, or exactly how this is calculated, I don’t really know. But we do know that every day we wake up with certain amount of energy which we need in order to function.
The apostle Paul writes to the believers of his time about putting God’s energy to work. We have all been given the energy to create God’s world in our world. We have been given the energy, the ability to build our lives, our families and even our societies according to God’s patterns in this world. The world might never become a paradise on earth (some people believe this is possible), but we all have been called by God to transform it closer to His patterns of life, justice and productivity.
The apostle Paul is telling the believers he is writing to, that in fact he “toils to full exhaustion”, which is the literal translation of what “I labor” means in the Greek (“kopio“). He is “agonizing”, which is how “striving” really translates (“agonizomenos” – to remain “meno” in a state of “agon“, which means to struggle, literally (to compete for a prize), figuratively (to contend with an adversary), or genitive case (to endeavor to accomplish something) — fight, labor fervently, strive.).
But the apostle wants to make sure everyone understands the source of both his motivation and energy: it is Christ in him, the Holy Spirit at work in him. God’s energy working in him. (“according to his energeian“), which works in Paul like “dynamite” (“dynamei” – Gr.)
I don’t know about you, but just reading all this, fills me up with faith and energy!
This energy has been given to us who have come into oneness (covenant) with the Lord, primarily so we can:
1) Love the Lord our God with all our mind, heart and strength
2) To love others as we ourselves have been loved by God
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
1) On loving the Lord
When we seek God, we surrender to Him, we entrust ourselves to Him and in return we hear from Him words of comfort, direction and correction.
Comfort and reassurance are essential to our lives. We all need them on a ongoing basis, don’t we? The Shepherd of our soul knows just what to say to us, how and when, in order to touch our soul on a deep intimate level. This is how we are reassured. This is how we know deep inside that we are loved, that He is with us and that “everything will be alright” (“all things work together for good”).
Correction is also a form of love, even though many people have experienced various types and degrees of trauma throughout their lives, which prevents them form relating to correction as a way of God loving us. This explains why we have so many “goats” amongst the flock. They know all the right words to say, they have read all the right books and have been to all the important conferences. But deep inside they don’t feel like sheep. On a deep level they abide in fear, a sense of uncertainty and not sensing a personal value (low self-esteem). They despise and fear a life of submission to God because their trauma interprets as hostile everything and anything that has to do with authority figures.
How sad. God is the greatest authority figure ever. All other authority stems from His authority – parental, spousal, legal, societal, professional, etc. James Dobson, in his acclaimed book Dare To Discipline, speaks to this issue, clearly showing that one of the earliest signs of showing parental love is to discipline a child, when the child tests the healthy boundaries set by the parent. It doesn’t feel nice to the child, but it sends a message: the parent so cares of loves the child, that he or she will take the time to apply discipline and reinforce the boundaries that have been set. This means the parent cares and is not just saying some cheap, meaningless words. This is how a child internalizes a sens of “I am important enough” and “I matter enough”, even to the point of my parent following through on what they said I shouldn’t do. “Good, now I know you are committed to me. Now I know you care about me”, is what the child’s brain translates.
Conversely, a parent who doesn’t follow through with discipline, compromises the very integrity if his/her own words, which demoralizes a child, leaves him or her with a sense of being on their own, a sense closer to being alone in a boat in the midst of a storm, rather than a king or a queen sitting on a throne.
All of this correction stuff only works and makes sense within the context of a loving, kind and reassuring parental relationship. He who doesn’t first know how to love and show unconditional love to their child, doesn’t really have the spiritual, moral and ethical right to try to discipline, especially in a way of being firm and strong. This confuses a child and inflicts a wound in their soul, leaving them forever suspicious of the world around them, but most importantly suspicious of those in authority.
Needless to say we have a lot of people out there whose trauma sets them up literally for a life of endless cycle of living in fear and sabotaging themselves and others they are connected with.
The most extreme examples of such cases are those prone to a life of crime, the people who end up populating our already overpopulated prisons.
But don’t be fooled, there are plenty of “high-functioning” goats out there, people you meet every day, who are able to function in various degrees in their lives, yet on a deep level their spiritual and emotional baseline remains fear and anxiety – sometimes throughout their entire lives. Jesus loves the goats, too. However, they are difficult and not too willing to receive the help they need, which is why it’s possible to waste their entire lives running around as wild…well, goats.
When we entrust our lives to Jesus as our Creator, King, Savior and Friend (The Lover of Our Soul), we can finally find true rest. This is what it means “to love yourself” – i.e. to create the space and the time needed to receive God’s love towards you; his comfort, guidance and correction.
As we surrender to Him, we make room for His energy to kick in and to begin energizing our very soul and lives, which energy becomes poured into us in a way that it fills our own need of love and energy, as well as we have excess amounts of it to serve and bless others.
This is how we get to the next arena of God’s energy working in us:
2) Loving our fellow man
Loving our fellow man takes more than just words. It takes time and energy for us to have received God’s love. Likewise, it takes time and energy to love someone else. It’s a whole different matter whether they will receive it or reject it.
- It takes time and energy to listen, which is one of the primary ways of showing love, appreciation and respect for someone else. Recently, someone I care deeply about, told me that when they spend time with me, they feel like I’m there, giving them my full attention, as if they were the only person in the world that matters to me at that moment. That’s the greatest compliment I could have possibly received. But I wasn’t a good listener for many years. This is something I had to learn about and also learn how to apply in the way I relate to others. I still fail on a regular basis to be a good listener.
- It takes time and energy to actually “help” people. Words are cheap. In real life there are real situations and the people we tell we care about will need us to be “there” for them. This takes time and energy. People who show up for other people in their time of need, potentially may strike some of the greatest friendships.
- It takes time and energy for married couples to develop their relationship and even to have sex. Many studies have shown that tiredness is a huge factor in sexless marriages.
- It takes time and energy to rear children.
- It takes time and energy to help our parents when they become elderly.
- It takes time and energy to be a good neighbor to those you live next to, or close by.
- It takes time and energy to foster good relationships with colleagues, business partners and clients, if you own a business or if you are building a professional career.
In all of this, God desires for us to abide in Him on a daily basis because
“in Him we live and move and have our being”. (Acts 17:28)
Rejecting God leaves us at a terrible place of being on our own when facing the chaos of life and the never ending demand on us by others, by work and by circumstances. It is understandable why people give up on life and others, feeling like they give of themselves but get very little in return. People will always fail us, if this is all we live by. I refuse to depend on what people can do for me. I accept people’s limitations and let people be who they are. My ultimate expectation is with God and he has never let me down.
God desires to be our Primary Source and Provider of life, strength, joy, peace and energy, which we all need all the time. He wants to give us the energy needed to create God’s world in our world. He is good and his love endures forever. Bad things do happen and they will happen. However, this doesn’t change who He is and who He desires to be to us as we go through the journey of life.
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