Saturday, August 15, 2015

I Find Love (When I Look at the Cross)

I know what "self-sacrificing" means in English; but to see it expressed in another language gave me a new and deeper perspective than I have ever had.

The Spanish word misericordia means "self-sacrificing." When I look at the word, I see three parts: one, the root ser which means being or existence; two, although I do not know this to be true in Spanish, mis- in English is usually a negative prefix (meaning whatever follows is not true); and three cordia, which reminds me of the Spanish word for heart, corazón. The rough interpretation that immediately entered my head was "a heart that is willing to give up its existence." For me, that was powerful.

The Bible expresses it this way:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13)
Self-sacrificing love is a love that cares so much about you that I do not care about me anymore. It is a love that feels that your life, even without me in it, is more valuable than mine without you in it. The thought that God could not bear to be without me - to the point of being willing to not exist - is an overwhelming thought that will take eternity to fully absorb.

Have you ever wanted to be missed? Wanted to be needed? Wanted to be wanted? I have; and it is a miserable reality when you discover that the people you would like to care don't.

Years ago, I had an experience that completely turned my social standing upside down. Once the center of all church happenings, I was now an outcast. I can assure you that the worst part was not that it happened; no, it was the rude awakening I had after denying for so long that it happened. I tried for a while to pretend nothing had happened; that I was innocent; that there were still people who cared about me; that I was not actually alone. To realize publicly that those sentiments are completely wrong is quite the shock.

At that time, all "alone" with just my family for companions, I discovered that I had changed. I had allowed my personality to dissolve into that of my friends, to be diluted by there preferences, to be tainted by their negative traits. It was bad enough that my personality needed work in the first place; now it was in shambles. New friends wanted me to talk; but I was reserved, not wanting to scare them off with my "hogging the show" as my old friends had described it. New friends wanted me to play with them, try new things: but I did not want to show off, or conversely, uncover my ineptitude and be laughed at. Things that were not me became me, and I discovered that people who wanted to care could not because I could not let them.

Slowly, I understood that these were friends not profitable to my character growth. They were not necessarily bad people; but I had obviously not benefited from them as much as I had lost. With time, I came to the peace of knowing that while God did use them at an earlier point in my life, it was time to move on. This actually helped me stop trying to be someone I was not, because now there no one to impress.

In time I re-discovered God's love and mercy. But I found myself trying to change myself to be liked and accepted by God. It was hard for me to just let Him have me without fixing something first. And of course, fixing is a long and tedious process, especially when you are operating on negative strength. But this word misericordia brought me to a reality I am only now beginning to comprehend: God's love is so deep that He would stop existing to make me live. Through the cross, He basically says, I would miss you. Other people may never, but I would miss you tremendously. He would give up - and has given up - everything so that I can have a new heart, and new life, and a new Friend.

Notice something extraordinary about this idea of self-sacrificing love. Jesus says that we should love our enemies by praying for them, by not rendering evil for evil for railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing (Matthew 5:44, 1 Peter 3:9). But self-sacrificing love is only poured out on a friend: for there is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Yes, you are considered God's friend; and the moment you accept that reality, it is true in your life. Only after Lucifer openly rebelled was he called "the adversary." Only upon your rejection of God's mercy are you at enmity with God. Until you say "no," you are His friend.

What will you say to such great love?

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