What do you give a God who has everything?
Since we’re learning about healthy relationships, it is important to point out that God doesn’t play games, we don’t have to guess what to get God for Christmas, Easter or just because. We don’t have to worry about getting the wrong size or whether it’s returnable because we have a list of what our Lord wants:
The First Commandments
Read Exodus 20:1-11 (NIV)
And God spoke:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.
1. What does God want?
Jesus came to earth to show us how to keep the commandments. In summary:
Read Matthew 22:37-38
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”
In one word, God wants LOVE (Romans 13:10). Love never wears out, it always fits and God appreciates it. Love is priceless so we can afford it.
2. Describe someone or something you love with all your heart, soul and mind.
I love my husband. I have one husband. I have no other husbands. I look forward to seeing him. Saying his name brings me joy. I love spending time with him and set aside time to spend with him. I am in love with my husband and can safely say I love him all the time but…
I also misuse his name.
I want to love him with all my heart, soul and mind all the time. He deserves to be loved that way and I’m thankful he is loved that way …by our dogs. I can’t compete with our dogs.
Our dogs love us with all their heart, soul and mind. It is obvious. No matter how many times anyone in the family leaves and comes back; the dogs are sad when they leave and thrilled when they return. It doesn’t matter if it is ten minutes, ten seconds or ten days, the dogs greet us full of joy. It doesn’t matter if they are sick or old, they still lift their head and wag their tail. They love with all their heart, soul, mind and body. They put love in action.
Describe what church would be like.
We want the same love and support God asks for in the first commandments. We want to hear our name said in kindness. We want someone who sets aside time for us. We love people who are nice to us.
And we are hurt when someone misuses our name, we get jealous and we want anyone who hates us to be punished.
4. Has anyone misused your name? If so, describe what it felt like.
In a healthy relationship both people feel they are loved and supported all the time.
Read Exodus 34:6-7
“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
We have half of a healthy relationship.
God loves me. God never misuses my name and is with me at all times and in all places. God is NEVER too busy; my problems are never too small.
God treats me with respect. God supports the things I like, listens to me, celebrates my accomplishments, doesn’t criticize me and respects my decisions.
God has healthy boundaries. I have the freedom to voice my concerns and I can walk away. I am not forced to love God. God respects my choice.
God loves me so much that Jesus came to die for me on the cross.
And read John 3:16
God so loved the world that HE gave HIS one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
5. Do you believe God loves you and that Jesus died on that cross just for you?
6. Why is it hard to believe?
Many don’t believe Jesus died on the cross for them. They see God through the distorted mirrors of their childhood. If they grew up in a dysfunctional environment and the people around them were angry, mean, cold, distant and unloving than God must be angry, mean, cold, distant and unloving. They use a faulty reflection of God, themselves and others to evaluate their worth. They feel cursed, abandoned, unattractive, unimportant and unloved.
They see the commandments as a list of failures.
They see Jesus with the “chosen” people; blessing them with beauty, health, wealth, popularity, love and everything else they feel denied. And when the “chosen” bully them, it further confirms that they are and will always be the last, least, lost and left out.
Satan is a master at separating us from God. He tells his victims that God made them infertile; God took their children, parents, spouse, siblings or friends away. God made them poor, hungry, broken and hurt. Satan wants us to be angry at God. He wants us to believe that our anger separates us from God and we are alone.
Because Satan knows grief is a very difficult and painful journey to walk alone. And when loss seeps in, it chases joy and hope away so Satan can surround us in his cold, dark hopeless hands. And there Satan leaves us.
But we’re not alone.
Anger does not separate us from God. Anger can be healthy. It is not always a sign of weakness or immaturity. God gets angry. God gave us anger to express our disappointment and vulnerability. Anger is our most passionate acknowledgement of God and our helplessness. Our anger and disappointment is a confession of the power God to save us. Anger shows we care enough to want something different. Anger is scary because it is raw and lacks control. Anger can be dysfunctional if it is harmful, abusive or repressed into resentment. Anger can become a scary mask to hide our tears and pain.
But we are never alone. God hides in our weakness. God meets us during our darkest moments. God finds us when we are most vulnerable and in need of a savior. God stays with us as we wrestle together through the stages of loss. God embraces us and wipes our tears. (Beatitudes, Matthew 5)
Jesus is our Savior. Jesus was born poor, out-of-wedlock in a barn. He hung out with the wrong crowd. He wasn’t attractive, popular or wealthy. He suffered.
Jesus was bullied, beaten and crucified. He lost friends and loved ones to death. Jesus understands our pain. Jesus weeps for us. Jesus says we are blessed when we suffer, mourn, thirst or any other way we meet him at the cross.
He feeds people, heals people, and raises people from the dead. He conquered death on the cross.
When Christ was crucified, God forgave our sins, rescued us from death and gave us eternal salvation.
And His tomb is empty.
Jesus showed us how to love God by first loving us. Jesus prayed, spent time with and communicated with God. He never misused God’s name. Jesus taught us how to call upon our Lord.
Healthy relationships aren’t about how accomplished, popular, wealthy or beautiful we are. They are about how well we love or more importantly who loves us – God’s perfect love.
In the waters of baptism grace is poured out upon us (Mark 16:16, Romans 6:3, 5). And God says to each of us
“(Name)_ you are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11
Homework: This week pray to build healthy, not hurtful relationships. Talk with God. Tell God about your hurts and listen for God. Read the statement we read together. Matthew 7:7 [Effective Prayer ] “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you”. Not sure what to say: “God be with me, hold me, love me and give me your grace. Help me to hear you call my name. Let me know you are with me. Amen”
“‘“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’ Amen
Our relationship with God is the cornerstone to a healthy relationship with ourselves and others. Brothers and sisters struggling with abuse, anger or their relationship with God are strongly encouraged to seek counseling for hope and healing. Christ peace.