A question Carlo and I ask one another regularly is: “If they don’t change, can you still be OK?” It’s a question that serves to inspect the source of my thoughts and whether I am trying to force connection with someone or really loving them with a Spirit led thought-life. We cannot love people into submission. We cannot use our connection with them to get them to be more acceptable to us. In any relationship we need to evaluate why we do the things we do, and determine whether we are in the relationship for us of for the benefit of the other person. When you remain focused on loving another person and not only seeking your own way, you remain accountable and responsible, but when you tend to desire only what pleases you it becomes easy and unavoidable to become the victim. As a result you soon find yourself staying only for what the other person can do for you.
We sometimes find it hard to love others, because we ourselves feel very inadequate, drowning in self-doubt and unworthiness we get stuck in an unending performance, in pursuit of validation. The danger of living a life based on performance is that we perform in order to control how other people see us. We think that if we can control other people’s opinion of us, we can be more effective at ministry, and therefore more righteous. We draw from a bitter source of disappointment with ourselves and disillusionment with others. We tend to operate from the resulting guilt and shame that comes from disappointment.
It is hard and challenging to allow people to see who we really are, to be vulnerable and honest with them when it comes to our hearts. We live in a day and age where we are bombarded with messages to protect what is ours, to insure our possessions and our health. In contrast, the Kingdom requires us to come before the King naked and unashamed, to be vulnerable with each other, to expose our hearts and love each other fearlessly. Like a bride on her wedding, we should approach with excitement the unveiling of who we are. Only when we have removed the veil, and that which hid ourselves, can we become intimate with one another.
It’s only in seeing the true value of ourselves that we enable ourselves to see the true value in others. But when we are on the defensive, we are in a perpetual state of guarding our hearts, preventing others from seeing us, and us seeing into them. It has become easy to be what we have done, as opposed to who we are because of what He has done. We cannot fully love someone as long as we are held back by the limits of how pleased they are with us. Approval has become a substitute for connection and anointing, because as long as I can perform good enough to retain your good opinion, I will have influence over you. In the past I have been so negligent of the gifts and love of God, that I have used discernment as a tool to scope people out in order to determine what it is that makes them tick. Before interacting with people, I would stand to one side in a room and just get the feel of where everyone was at emotionally and spiritually, so that I could make an informed entrance, hitting all the right notes. I love the book “Keep Your Love On” by Danny Lee Silk, it is such an informative and insightful tool to facilitate connection and healthy relationships (if you have not read it, do yourself a favor and go get it). My problem, upon first reading it, was that my own self-doubt and insecurities caused me to use it as a tool for manipulation. I would learn the right words and manners to use in order to gain trust and connect with someone, but I would walk away still completely unsure of whether I was accepted or loved, completely at odds with the Spirit because these gifts were not gaining me any notoriety or acceptance. I was fully convinced that I was bad at faith, that I was not cut out to be a believer because I was not gaining favour or influence with my gifts. It was all about me and what God could do for me and what He just wouldn’t allow to fall into my underprivileged and suffering lap.
2Co 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2Co 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
I can’t base the value I perceive someone else to have on what I know about them. I have to look at them through the eyes of redemption and reconciliation. We need to come to a place where we are indeed dead to the old man – ours and others. A place where the old nature is no longer relevant or significant. Every time we believe a lie about ourselves or someone else, we yield to an inferior reality instead of surrendering to truth. Truth doesn’t need figuring out or striving to be made sense of. Truth is a safe place where you get to just be, to rest. It is a place where there is no more inward struggle or turmoil, a place where you are already loved and accepted.
We keep trying to kill something that is already dead, or at best make the dead guy look appealing and acceptable. We tend to want to dress up the corpse, put some make up on it, adorn it with valuable jewels, but it still stinks. It is still dead. We have this misconception that our souls are inherently evil, that though we are saved we are still burdened with this horrid burden of flesh and reasoning. We tend to consider our hearts saved and redeemed, but our minds still the property of the devil, needing redemption and salvation. There is no part of you that wasn’t redeemed, there is no part of you that needs redeeming and conquering. Instead of focusing on killing the flesh, we should focus on reviving that which is already alive, nurturing and cultivating that which has already been made our new selves.
Rom 6:6 We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. This was done, so that our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin.
Rom 6:7 We know that sin doesn’t have power over dead people.
Rom 6:8 As surely as we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him.
Rom 6:9 We know that death no longer has any power over Christ. He died and was raised to life, never again to die.
Rom 6:10 When Christ died, he died for sin once and for all. But now he is alive, and he lives only for God.
Rom 6:11 In the same way, you must think of yourselves as dead to the power of sin. But Christ Jesus has given life to you, and you live for God.
Eph 4:17 As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people.
Eph 4:18 Their minds are in the dark, and they are stubborn and ignorant and have missed out on the life that comes from God. They no longer have any feelings about what is right,
Eph 4:19 and they are so greedy that they do all kinds of indecent things.
Eph 4:20 But that isn’t what you were taught about Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and you heard about him and learned about him.
Eph 4:21 (SEE 4:20)
Eph 4:22 You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits.
Eph 4:23 Let the Spirit change your way of thinking
Eph 4:24 and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy.
Eph 4:25 We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth.
So, can you still remain at peace while someone is doing something you don’t agree with? Or more importantly, can you maintain your peace while someone continues to do something you might have addressed in them? People don’t owe us anything, and it is a severely unfair and unloving thing to want them to change and conform to our ideas. Control in any relationship is selfish and cruel; it serves only to maintain the illusion of closeness while in reality it drives people apart.