The Damage In Loving Others

One of the great dilemmas I see in the American church today is the identity of being lovers. When I look at how every human being is hardwired, the greatest foundational need for every person is not only to love others, but in fact the ability to be loved. Painful memories, betrayal of relationships, abandonment, and broken trust triggers our own deeply held belief that there is something about us that we believe is not lovable. In this sense, it is much easier to love someone else because we understand ourselves in the place of authority. We are able to give to this person what they need. We hold the power to what this person needs. This is the difference between conditional love (power over) where one has to earn the merit to be loved, and unconditional love (power under) where one is loved as they are. The wielding of power over another human being is where deep wounds accumulate. This is why parents can do such great damage to their children. They hold the power of their child’s needs in their hands. And, when a child is abused or neglected, they close themselves off from their deepest needs. To be loved makes us say, “I am powerless. I need this from you. I don’t have control over this.” When we are able to experience our own poverty, we now longer need to cling to power; we no longer need to withhold what we have from others. This is the beauty of Jesus, who lived in pure poverty. He surrendered himself on a cross. This is why the greatest act of love is not done in power, but given away in powerlessness. Human beings were made in the image of God, so it shouldn’t surprise us when Stanley Hauerwas says, “God doesn’t want to be believed in, God wants us to love God.”

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