A Loving Relationship Transforms
We are following on the Abraham story. Isaac has been born into Abraham and Sarah's old age. Abraham has come through the testing request to sacrifice Isaac and now Isaac is the heir to Abraham's legacy and estate and Abraham wants him to have a suitable life partner. And so his servant goes on the task of achieving that.
One of the great privileges I find when asked to take a funeral is learning about the person who has died and their relationships. A common part of that story consists of how they met their life partner.
- Friend of another family member
- The person who came to help
- The one they wanted and so pursued
- riding past their place regularly
- climbing over seats at the theatre to sit with them
- At dances
- At socials
What is your love story? How did you meet and recognise what my aunt calls 'the chemistry' between you?
And what words of love were inspired and shared? The Song of Solomon or Song of Songs is an exquisite piece of Hebrew poetry that sensually speaks of the human lover and their beloved and also the rapture and mystery that is the covenant relationship between God and God's people. It is all about longing - God's longing for us and our longing for God.
As with other things to do with God we get glimpses of
the nature of our relationship with this all encompassing word
Glimpses that make us want more - or not.
That inspire us to respond in action and attitude - or not.
That call us to go deeper and faster, those qualities called the fruit of the spirit - Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness - or not.
What happens when we know we are loved?
- security to be who we are
- live up to the best recognised and acknowledged within us
- live without fear
Conversely what if we are not truly loved?
We are love seeking people. We are made to be social - to have friends and (in the old term) to have intimates. People we are so close to that we feel they are part of us and us them. Knowing and being known.
And I quote again from William and Catherine's wedding "a loving relationship transforms", that so struck me as applying to both our human and spiritual relationships.
Transformed from what to what?
And Jesus says - transformed from people worried about having to please others and be concerned about obeying the rules all the time and being judged for what you do and don't do - and transformed to people who keep company with God and live with rhythms of grace, freely and lightly.
And we are asked to love people in the same freeing, transforming way.
We are called to be encouraging and uplifting, honest and caring - so that we too are the examples of grace in other people's lives.
And none of this is possible if we do not as Jesus said 'Love yourself.'
All our trying to be loving to others and building up others has to come from a place of worth in ourselves. If we judge ourselves hard we will automatically judge others hard. If we feel unvalued and uncared for we will pass this on. The messages we give ourselves will come out in our actions with others.
So what does love of self look like? We've often tainted our picture of self-love with words like pompous or self-interested or selfish or egotistical.
Love your neighbour as yourself. What does this biblical call to love self look like?
In health circles we often use the terms self-care and self-responsibility which I think are better terms to have in mind. So if we have these in mind. What will love of self look like?
Healthy - functioning well or being sound This meaning of healthy is a good standard to measure much of what we do against. Paul is describing unhealthy, unsound thinking and actions as those that take him away from relationship to God and ends with saying Jesus Christ is the answer to restoring health and relationship. Jesus says "Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. Come to me.. and I will give you rest." Jesus is waiting to encourage you to stand straight, unburdened by judgement and criticism and to be functioning well and sound.
Prayer from The Pattern of Our Days:
We pray for those who do not love themselves
who cannot face the turmoil in their souls
Who put themselves down and call it selflessness
Who make themselves ill with bitterness
Who become sick with self-loathing
Restore them and help them live with themselves
that they may joyfully live with each other.
And we pray for ourselves
for the times when 'they' include us.