Only within the Triune God does love exist flawlessly. It’s merited there. Father, Son and Spirit demonstrate all of loves characteristics, all the time. And… God loves humanity. It’s always unmerited. It’s always unearned. It’s never reciprocated adequately yet that does not diminish its flow. God is always offering perfect love to flawed people. Always.
Even in Heaven, He will be the reason we are able to love. Unlike now, He will have access to the whole of our beings without any encumbrances or barriers. No blockage. No baggage. No resistance. Pure love will flow in me and through me. Equally miraculous, I will be free to receive love fully. These days, I sift through carefully. I limit. I do a good bit of self protecting. But not then.
Love Isn’t Arrogant
arrogant – having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities
For behold, the day is coming,
burning like an oven,
when all the arrogant
and all evildoers will be stubble.
The day that is coming
shall set them ablaze,
says the Lord of hosts,
so that it will leave them
neither root nor branch.
~ Malachi 4: 1 ~
My friend just reminded me, boasting requires that words be spoken, and that what we speak reveals the content of our hearts. Arrogance does not require language to communicate. It assumes a superior position most often used to dominate and suppress the weak. It can be packaged all manner of ways. It can come through a church-lady whose smile says “welcome” while she looks you over disapprovingly. It can also come through a smug, unashamed Elitist who dismisses you altogether because you’re not worthy to be ingratiated. Whatever it looks like, its intent is that the high-brows stay “above” the less-thans.
Any sentence that begins with “I deserve”… any inner dialogue that measures another person against my “A” list… any sigh of disgust, or sideways glance, or rolling of the eyes, or “I was here first”, or “don’t you know who I am?”, is arrogance. Class-systems, racial profiles, or religious denominational squabbles are most often rooted in a quest for positioning….for one-upmanship. Arrogance is thievery, taking from God what belongs to Him.
It’s interesting to chew on the implications of the presence of arrogance in The Western Church. We fight a superiority complex that has nearly crippled our influence to a lost world. We know how Jesus felt about the religious folk during His earthly ministry, but the elitism ingrained in our thinking and practice of “spiritual-life” is beyond sifting through. It’s so long-standing……so woven into the fabric of how we do what we do and how we pass on what we believe.
The Sunday School flannel-board lessons of my childhood portrayed Jesus as a tanned white male with a trimmed beard. I assumed He spoke English and had the value system I did as an American Christian. He was my Jesus. He belonged to me and my culture. No one ever said as much but that’s what I took away. I formed an elitist mentality right from my inception and indoctrination. I loved missionaries and the idea of venturing off to parts unknown with the Gospel, BUT…. the underlining believe was that we were going in to rescue the “lesser-than”….. I did not consciously ‘feel’ superior. I felt compassion. But I promise you, I assumed I was uniquely and superiorly enlightened. With a deep breath and a satisfying sigh I might say, “I’m an American Christian. I’m at the top of the heap. I bring good tidings that includes an invitation to embrace the American dream.”
How do I come out from under the arrogance that is second nature to me? If “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” and I don’t address it, I have to be willing to accept whatever “falling” will look like. Or, I can ask, and keep asking God to humble me. I have a physical reaction even as I type this sentence, because this is a prayer I pray and I have experienced God’s response to it.
Arrogant Christians are not loving people. Arrogant Christians have forgotten that they are not owners but stewards of people and things and positions; and that they don’t have them because they deserve them. I am certain there is thread upon thread of arrogance that remains woven into my being. But God can snip and pull out every last one of them. That tedious work is uncomfortable, embarrassing and painful….. and absolutely essential.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate.
~ Luke 1: 50-52 ~