A very sinister thing happened when Adam and Eve sinned.
Their universe changed.
Suddenly everything turned outside-in. In their own minds, they became the center of their own consciousness…of their own affections…indeed, of their own world.
It’s not that they had no consciousness of self before the Fall. But self was not the “center” of their thoughts. God was the glorious center of everything. Everything they saw, smelled, touched, tasted, and experienced all flowed from and into an amazing awareness of their God, His nature, and His provision.
But this all collapsed inwardly because of sin. Talk about tragic.
Okay, so what’s this got to do with the title of this post: “Why most people are not experiencing God’s love“? Let me start by showing you an important Scripture text:
“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:25-26)
I may be about to offend some of you. Hopefully not. (Go here to read: Is it Ever Okay to Be Angry with God?)
Most of us think of love in terms of “being made much of.” We feel love, when we feel affirmation and approval and acceptance and praise. Many (most?) people suffer with self-rejection and self-hate. They don’t feel a love for themselves and certainly can’t perceive it from others. So we are told that we must learn to accept ourselves and to think positive thoughts about ourselves. This is the world’s way of helping us feel love. And it’s definitely better than self-loathing! But it’s nowhere close to God’s idea of love.
Similarly, well-meaning Christians often misinterpret the Bible, when they say, “The Bible says to love others as you love yourself. This means you have to truly love yourself or you’ll never be able to love others!”
When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” He was not making a case for self-focused love! He was actually assuming self-centeredness in His hearers. (Remember, we all come by this through Adam and Eve!). Jesus was actually contradicting the view stated in the previous paragraph. Jesus was saying that the focus of our affections must make a huge shift. We must move from focusing on ourselves to looking outward.
Most Christians have the idea that “unconditional love” is when people look beyond our faults and see how special we really are deep down inside. They are able to look past our junk to affirm and make much of our better side or our best intentions.
While being able to look past people’s junk to see potential and value is definitely a good thing, none of this is even close to the real foundational concept of love that we find revealed by Jesus.
Maybe you’ve already seen where I am going from the Bible text above. If not, you’ll have to wait until the next post for the solution! Stay tuned.