Highly recommended: The Scars of Forgiveness.
“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love…”
“What’s in it for me“? is the true heart echo of most of humanity. Human love is contractual, transactional and ultimately not unconditional.
If one has achieved or come close to unconditionality, it is usually by progress through the following steps:
- Pure self-love: Where we all start. The individual is a pure user, a taker, lost to any true concept of love. All individuals as well as things exist for his/her benefit to be consumed on self, for self. Period.
- Love granted with a clear eye on some perceived payback: “I’ll give but I’m still in it for ME! You give me this and I’ll give you that”. Very much a contractual thing, a proposition. It has precious little of true love in it. Hitler loved this way. Jesus said even the Pharisees loved this way.
- Love granted for a non-perceived payback. “Okay, so I sacrifice, give, and no, I don’t expect this or that thing in return, just some return, somewhere“, be it ever so small — expectation of a pat on the back, a card of thanks, anything at all that gives recognition of the “love” or sacrifice. It has the roots of love and constitutes a small step away from pure contractualism.
- Love granted for a non-perceived payback from God. Here is a notable step forward in the pathway of true love in that it removes from the picture, the human element in the transaction. But transaction it still is. It may be an unselfconscious effort to buy something from God. God is not in the transaction business. All that was completed at the Cross – “It Stands Finished”
- Love granted purely because that’s what love does — it sacrifices, without an eye on return, or keeping one hand behind the back. The purest form of love — the love displayed fully on the Cross, and that which constitutes our vision, goal and desire.
The transfer from one level to another is usually the result of suffering with eyes open, or reflection. It is typically imperceptible to self, and would destroy itself by self-recognition.
If bitterness, vengeance, unforgiveness, grudge-bearing takes over at any point it will kill progress and send the whole thing downhill like falling off the rungs of a ladder.
“My secret heart is taught the truth that makes thy people free, A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty” – Anna Laetitia Waring
“For the Lord sees not as man sees:man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” — 1 Samuel 16:8
To find an individual who conveys understanding, grace and acceptance, is to find one who has no doubt been touched in the deepest core of his or her being with grace — the quality of which they are able to show to others. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
But then there are those in life, perhaps once close or close enough to at least “think” they know our true heart, who then use this “knowledge at a distance” to erase the good and retain only an evil in their minds, tempting them to act out against us as though we truly are the thuggish characters drawn in their omniscient imaginations.
Like a foretaste of hell itself, we repeatedly stand in the court of their minds, where jury, prosecution witnesses and sentencing judge all look forebodingly upon us, with darkened and even furious brow. There we wait…there we are left to rot in the trappings of our worthlessness, with no opportunity for recovery and no leeway to change or morph into something or someone better.
You are who you are…at least in the terrifying court-room of their minds.
Still they read our heart. Still they know we’re just not good enough. Still they know we never will be. Though we seek to rise, to perform to their exacting standards, like a rising high-jump bar, the expectation of performance just keeps getting higher and higher.
It is at such a moment of horrendous realization, that we perceive in the corner of our mind’s eye, our beloved Advocate — one whom when He beholds our limping frame urges that “with boldness we come before Him” where we see in the shadows His cross, His blood, His victory and the words “it is finished”
“But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” — 1Jn. 1:1-2