Bringing the message of God’s eternal love to our generation might be more of a challenge than what most of us realize. This is partly due to the fact that today’s popular culture seems to be constantly pushing people into the pursuit of ‘originality’. This post is an exhortation from a Biblical standpoint. According to the dictionary definition, an exhortation is “a speech or discourse that encourages, incites, or earnestly advises”. It’s about finding and losing ourselves in the pursuit of self. It’s about a cultural trend, manhood, womanhood, and personhood. If nothing else, this might be helpful to some young people who live under incredible pressure “to be somebody”, to be “cool” and so on. This might also be helpful to those of you who want to do well as parents and love your children unconditionally, while they go through their process of finding themselves in this crazy world. And crazy world it is.
Take for example one of the many “Human Ken Doll” individuals who have been popping up around the world. What a sad state of mankind we are “privileged” to witness in our lifetime! I wonder how many young people read stories like these and think to themselves “I can’t wait to do this one day!” Hopefully not too many! And please don’t think for a minute I am somehow hateful of this individual. I’m not. I read his story and it made me incredibly sad. The same goes for the Human Barbie lady Valeria Lukyanova from Moldova.
Welcome to a world obsessed with modifying its own visage in a pursuit of “our better version” – physically, that is, not spiritually. How do we articulate the wonderful, simple truths of God, to a generation obsessed with rejecting itself and trying to remake itself in order to find acceptance and popularity?
The truth is we don’t need to be ‘eccentric’ in order to be ‘original’. What makes us ‘great’ is not perfect looks. Furthermore God has already made each one of us an original, inside and out. Even though we are all made of the dust (same chemical elements as nature), we all are in essence a combination of glorified DNA dressed in a body suit, we all have fears and hopes, we all get hungry and thirsty, even while we are all incredibly unique in God’s eyes.
Coming to a place of being aware of “who you are” in your personhood in a healthy way is entirely possible when you come into a loving relationship with our Creator. Psalm 8 is a beautiful prophetic poem and a tribute to this awesome realization – in light of who God is as our Creator and Father.
“…what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet.”
When we recognize others for who they already are, not what we project onto them what they should be, it may be the greatest form of respect one person can render to another. Too many people don’t simply “see” who others are, possibly because they have never experienced the blessedness of having been accepted for who they are themselves. So much of mankind is caught up in the vicious cycle of pressuring each other to become something we are not, based on what someone else thinks we should be.
As we come into Christ, as we transition from darkness to light and as we become grounded in who our Creator is and his great love for us, we gain a firm foundation under our feet. We are aligned with the unchanging, incorruptible, ever just and all powerful God whose verdict of us as his children is “You are now mine. You are now loved and accepted.”
It’s what people do with this verdict that separates us.
HE OFFERS HIMSELF TO US – ON HIS TERMS
Some people hear about the Love and the Life of God but never experience this on a deep, existential, spiritual and even emotional level. They give up on the journey too soon and revert to despair and short-term philosophies in an attempt to spare themselves from the agony of trying to connect with God and not succeeding. This is sad and true for many such people. It’s hard for them to accept that God chooses to reveal himself on his own terms. But that’s one of the things that makes God – God. He gets to prescribe how we connect with him.
As we the Jewish people celebrate Shavuot, we are reminded of how God gave Moses the Law. In it, He prescribed how his covenant people should meet with Him. The time, the place, the way it should work, the clothes the priests were to wear, the utensils to be used. God offers himself to us – on his terms!
Now, it’s true that God is all-present but we can’t manipulate him into “showing up” for us in a personal way just because we decided he needs to show up for us when we think He should. It takes laying down our agenda and coming to him with an attitude of reverence, if we are serious about coming to know Him. We, humans would turn God into our slave and will even abuse him, if our fallen nature was given the chance to be “in charge” of God. Think about that!
But I digress.
Deep inside people who reject God would actually love to experience this God, this Creator of theirs, but they feel like it’s too much work to go through (remember, we are the generation of “instant” coffee and “real time” information). Or they feel as if this was never really meant to be and choose another path.
Some even turn hostile. But I think very few ever indeed descend to a place of truly hating God. Usually God-haters have a story and it’s a very personal and sad story of a loss of some kind. Or some kind of abuse. Either way, when a real deep, personhood-level wound is inflicted on our soul, it generates a deep and sometimes violent reaction, i.e. hate. And when people don’t know who to direct this reaction at, they lash out at the one they think should have protected them from evil. That would be God. Or whatever they think God should be or is.
THERE ARE WOUNDS AND THERE ARE WOUNDS
Most of us have been wounded in some way or another. But some people have been subjected to a deep, personhood altering wound in their psyche. That’s different. There are wounds and there are wounds.
I believe God loves such people no less than all the “good boys and girls”, i.e. those who have come to terms with God and live a life of personal obedience to Him.
So long as people who have rebelled against God don’t cross the line of ‘hating’ God into blaspheming the Holy Spirit, there is hope for them. Sometimes people ‘think’ they hate God when in reality they really don’t, their wounds are producing a reaction to the trauma. Jesus was very explicit that the line that can’t be crossed has to do with blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which is an entirely different type of a response.
Think of the two criminals who were crucified each at Jesus’ side on Calvary. One came to a place of breaking down before God and repenting of his sin, the other one blasphemed God even with his last breath. Let’s not confuse people who have done maybe bad things and have even said harsh things about God, with true, deep-level God-haters who have crossed the line of no return. Judas the Iscariot would be another example of such individuals.
MORALISTS ARE OF NO HELP
The worst thing is when moralists try to “fix” wounded people. No one really knows how to “fix” people. We can only work with God to love on people and “be there” to the best of our ability.
We also need to be aware of boundaries. A wounded person needs to be made aware of boundaries. Wounded or not, legal, moral, ethical, social and relational (personal) boundaries are for everyone. You may be as wounded as anyone, but you must respect the STOP sign on the street, otherwise you might run over someone and end up in jail as you should.
So woundedness is not an excuse for crime or harassing or abusing others.
The best thing we can do is to accept people in their woundedness, without allowing their woundedness to take over and to begin dominating the “game” of life, to begin rewriting “the rules”, the first principles of what we know to be true and right. On a personal relatioship level, in a family, in a business relationship, at work and in society.
Some of us are content with who God is to us, who He has made us to be and we can’t imagine a greater blessing than to be found seeking to become more like Him, to become more human in fact, more real, warmer, loving and accepting. This is the heart of what it means to be ‘spiritual’, I believe. I don’t care too much about religious activities of one kind or another that leave people cold, hardened, shallow and fanatical, lacking compassion, love and acceptance of others. This is what I call “the religious spirit” and it’s all over the place. It turns people into petty religionists I don’t have much patience for.
Some of us have been wounded. Maybe even at home, by someone who should have given us the most love and affirmation. But instead they hurt us. God has deep compassion and love for such people, even if in their pain they lash out at him or other people.
And yet, there are those who have crossed the line. They have given themselves to evil and have chosen to serve it. We need to be aware of the difference between wounded people who do dumb things out of their woundedness and those who have chosen to serve evil.
Finally, I offer this wisdom from a great American eccentric, student of the world and thinker, whose writings I find very interesting, even though I don’t identify with his belief system and philosophical conclusions. At the end of the day, this is just a common sense truth one could easily observe how it plays out in different contexts and even cultures around the world.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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