Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Self Love, God Love

Loving oneself, accepting oneself, for who oneself is has become popular. Probably since before I was born.

I suspect (hope) that I am utterly confused by what people mean by "am" when they talk about "loving myself for who I am."

I am a sinner. Nothing to love there. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves the unlovable. Jesus makes the unlovable lovable. Jesus gives me his righteousness. I don't love who I am. I love Christ. I love who I am in Christ. I love who Christ is turning me into. I am justified, and in that sense, sure, I love myself for who I am. It's just that my love for myself--in the ways in which it is justified--has nothing to do with what I have done. Jesus doesn't love me because of what I have done. He loves me, yes. He even loves me particularly as who I am. But not for what I have done. I have never done anything so that anyone should love me, except what I have done by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only what Christ has done through me is any good.

I do not hate myself, though. I am justified by Christ. I have the power of the Holy Spirit within me to change me from who I once was, the man who only ever sinned, to who I shall be shown to be when I stand before the Judge, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and therefore holy and blameless. I love being used, ever so rarely, by God to the glory of God. That is what I live for--or aspire to live for. I only have reason to love myself insofar as I am in Christ and I love Christ. That is also the only way I have reason to love others: their lives are being directed--whether directly or, like pharaoh's, indirectly--to show the glory of God. The glory of God appeared and died for us, and this served to evidence, more than any other event in history, the glory of God. Loving the unlovable glorifies God. The hope which I have as a Christian, that no one is beyond God's help, that anyone might come to be found in Christ like I am, gives reason to love everyone with the love of God.

Thus: love God. Because of God's glory and his love toward you: love others. Love your neighbor as Christ loves yourself. As you do it to the least of these, you do it to him.

Of course, you can't do anything good apart from Christ in you. You are crap, and he has offered to glorify himself in your life. Some vessels are for honorable use, and, Christian, God calls you, the messed up mug, a vessel for honorable use, which he can use to display his Son to the world and so glorify himself. We have this treasure in jars of clay.