Summary: A sermon about learning to love ourselves.
"Breakfast With Jesus"
A young man named Timothy writes: "I'm 23, I hate the way I look and I just hate myself as a person.
I honestly believe that no woman on the planet is attracted to me and I feel that a woman will never love me ever in my life."
An expert writes:
"Self-hate is evident in everyone on this planet.
A broad statement, yes, but we believe this to be true.
To one degree or another, everyone has lack of self-acceptance, lack of self-love.
Feelings of unworthiness are at the root of the self-hate patterns.
Self-hate keeps us from feeling loved by another.
We are frozen in unworthiness, often battering away at the stone with affirmations and behaviors to try to feel better about ourselves.
We exercise and diet and build careers and seek power or fame.
We wear makeup and hair gel and cologne, trying to hide the awful people we 'know' we are deep inside.
We seek lover after lover, trying to feel loved and special and valuable . . . but we never really FEEL it.
We drink and drug and sex, trying to dull the pain at the core of our bones that says 'unworthy'."
He goes on:
"The only way to heal the dark demon at the center of the SELF is to allow the feelings of self-loathing expression, in a safe place, and hopefully with someone who loves and can listen without judging."
The expert finishes by saying we must "Breathe In Love."
"And then let yourself rest in the arms of love, and know that you are worthy and valuable."
In the chapter just before our Gospel Lesson for this morning we are told that Jesus "breathed on" the disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
And in the Book of Acts we are told that Jesus remained on the earth forty days following His Resurrection.
And according to John, those days were filled with activity.
John said, "Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples."
Jesus already appeared to His disciples on Easter day.
He returned when Thomas was there and allowed him to touch the nail marks in His hands and put his hand into His side.
Last week we talked about how Jesus appeared to two other disciples on "the road to Emmaus."
And they ran and told the other disciples: "The Lord really has risen!"
So, why did Jesus continue to appear and appear to His followers for 40 days after the first Easter?
I would say it is Grace-plus some!!!
Those forty days were the basis for the apostles' ability to endure the most severe suffering, self-doubt, and--yes--even self-hatred!!!
They had, after all, all deserted Him in His most desperate time of need.
They had "betrayed" Him.
And they felt horrible about themselves.
Experts say that "self-hatred or self-loathing" can often be linked to "guilt for someone's own actions that he or she views as wrongful."
So, even after the disciples were able to rejoice and believe that "Jesus is Alive," it took time for them to heal and become strong enough to become His messengers.
Healing does take time, does it not?
And we serve a patient, loving and understanding God Who knows us and what we need better than we know ourselves!!!
Luke wrote: "After his suffering, [Jesus] showed himself to these [men and women] and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.
He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God."
Author and theologian Leonard Sweet writes: "Had it not been for those forty days, faith in Jesus' resurrection would have had a weak foundation.
Had it not been for those forty days, the disciples would have continued to misunderstand the Scriptures.
During those forty days, Jesus opened up their understanding as He spoke of Himself from Genesis to Malachi, expounding the kingdom of God."
Sweet continues, "The forty days also established a new way of knowing Christ, a way that was not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
Recall that when the disciples first saw Jesus in His resurrected state, 'some doubted.'
But in the course of those forty days, Jesus revealed to His followers a new way of knowing Him--a way that would carry forward after His ascension, where believing without seeing became the norm."
This morning we find the disciples, who have already "seen" the Resurrected Christ, together and they don't seem to be very animated or motivated, shall we say.
They are at "the Sea of Tiberius," and after some time, Peter in what reads like a kind of dejected manner, off-handedly says: "I'm going fishing."
It doesn't sound like Peter was feeling very worthy or valuable.
Could there have been a "hint" of self-loathing holding him captive?