Loving Yourself in Order to Love Others – Reflection for theFourth Sunday in Advent 2019
We have looked at God’s love for us as an example of how to love God. Big order, but do able, and life giving and life changing. Now the toughest of all, loving yourself so you can love your neighbor in the same manner, so much so that it runs the danger of becoming trite.
Let’s look at what it means to love yourself. What if it does not mean to embrace self indulgent behavior? After all, that has little value in loving your neighbor. Ok, then what? Love is a verb. It is always action oriented. Looking at love through the liturgy of worship in the Word and the Sacrament, we see multiple times when we confess our sin acknowledging that we are unlovable, but God in His mercy and loving kindness has forgiven us, proclaiming that we are forgiven because God’s love is great than our sin. The action of this love is forgiveness and reconciliation in the presence of God. As we come to understand the role of our confession and the loving forgiveness of God. To love yourself requires accepting this forgiveness and the life changing transformation that accompanies it.
Moreover, because we are loved be God, we are declared lovable, hard to believe, but true. It means we have value and worth. Grasping this concept is a moment of pure joy. Life has purpose, in spite of ourselves. At this point our life becomes not simply renewed but reborn as a new creation in Christ. There is no longer reason to listen to the lies of Satan that attempt to convince us that we must in some way make ourselves loveable, valuable, or worthy. To love ourselves therefore means to see ourselves as God sees us, as beloved.
It is only when we comprehend the love of God for us and learn to walk as the beloved that we can begin to love others in the same way. We can recognize that we are not called to make judgments of who has value or worth. Christ has already declared that on the Cross. We do not get to decide who can or can not be forgiven, just forgive.
In forgiving, we are not just living out God’s love for another, we are living in God’s love for us. Forgiveness of others is not for them, it is for you to be able to relive the burden of unlove on your soul, so that life can be restored to you. While we carry the burden of unforgiveness joy eludes us and the fullness of joy is always less. Thereby, robbing us of the Peace that only God Can grant to us. A peace that passes all understanding. You are precious to God and therefore forgiven. Christ died and was raised from the dead. He lives now so that all might be saved (healed, forgiven, made whole, loved). To love oneself is to love as God loves, therefore, we are able to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Two simple commands are the foundation of God’s people, Love God and Love People. Listen to the angels praising God and we join our voices, perfect in love, with theirs praising God for the love for us.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen.