Breaking the cycle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It was so easy to be angry at the legalistic Christians who have no idea what it means to love others as we are called to. I pretty much quit being angry and bitter when I made a guess at WHY they had been so poor at loving. God had called us to love others as we love ourselves.

It appeared to me perhaps we as Christians struggle to love others because we do not actually know how to love ourselves. For so many of us, or I know for me at least, I would not wish on anyone the kind of love I dish out on myself much of the time. So I see Christians in a different light. We suck so much at loving others because we do not know how to love ourselves as Christ sees and loves us.[Tweet That] So the cycle begins.

Now I have been noticing another point in that cycle. That point answers the question, "Why do we struggle to love ourselves?" "Why do Christians have such a horrible time loving themselves and thus loving and accepting others?" Essentially, why ARE we legalistic?

The answer comes from within the question. We are legalistic because we have been hurt by legalism.

I have a hard time loving and accepting others because I have a hard time loving myself, and I have a hard time loving and accepting myself because I do not feel loved and accepted by Christians, and Christians have a hard time loving and accepting me because they have a hard time loving and accepting themselves, and they have a hard time loving and accepting themselves because I, a Christian, have a hard time loving and accepting them. And the cycle of legalism thickens, and I am more a part of it than I ever realized.

Can the cycle be broken? Yes! How?

By loving and accepting myself AND others! By not withholding love and acceptance! The easiest cycle breaker (and hardest personal choice) is to break the cycle at the point of reality and brokeness. I take away the pretense of perfection...of myself. Then I allow the Christians to realize I have no perfection pretense of myself and I am able to have no perfection pretense of them. This will happen when I become more concerned with being honest and acquiring healing instead of appearing fine, okay, good, or dare I say, perfect. It is in my brokenness that legalism cycles are broken. Because then I am able to love others as I love myself, which is loving acceptance of myself despite my failures and mistakes. So when I love and accept others as I do myself, they can love and accept themselves as they are, and then love me and others as they love themselves.

But right now, we DO love others as we love ourselves...legalistically.

Abide: a pastor's prayer

Jesus, I need you. My heart is deflated inside itself. I want to make your name known to others, and I fear I have not done so well with this. My heart and spirit are faint within me right now. (Ps. 142) I do not want to miss the opportunities you have for me to spread your word and your name to the students I have in my life, but I have been discouraged lately. You know the cry of my heart. You know the discouragement I am up against.

I also know I have not been abiding in you much lately. I realize that without being near to you, I am never going to see fruit in my life or ministry. (Jn.15) If I am not abiding in you, I will not see fruit in the ministry you have placed before me to lead. If the ministry itself is not abiding in you, it will never see fruit.

If you, your leaders, and your ministry are not abiding in Christ, you will not see ministry fruit.

My Lord, help me abide. Please hear my prayer from a deflated heart that needs you so much. Only you are our vine. Only you can produce the fruit in my life and ministry, but that is only going to happen if I abide in you. If my leaders abide in you! If the ministry begins to abide in you.

You are a refuge. You are Inspiration. You are Counselor. You are Teacher.

Teach me, lead me, and move me. Teach us, lead us, move us.