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Summary: God loves us. And when we realize that, we can start loving ourselves in order to love others.

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“Loving Ourselves in Order to Love Others”

“What Do You Want Me To Do For You?” – Part Two

Mark 12:28-34 ~ I John 4:9-10,19 ~ Ephesians 3:17-19

February 15, 2004

Purpose: God loves us. And when we realize that we can loving ourselves in order to love others.

Introduction –

[A bag with a stack of bricks next to it is placed at the front of the sanctuary. After a prayer over the sermon, no introduction is given. One-by-one the bricks are added to the bag as some “baggage” that people may be carrying is verbalized.]

examples

I may be too short

People don’t like my preaching

I intentionally hurt another person

Another person intentionally hurt me

I’m overweight

I’m out-of-style

[either start getting requests from the congregation or continue to give items until the bag is filled up with the bricks.]

Psychologists would call this bag, and the bricks in it, our “shadow side.” While we are prone to display what we believe others would like to see in us, this “shadow side” is what we may be hiding from others.

This is stuff that often hurts. The stuff that we’ve been told isn’t normal, or isn’t healthy to show to others. It’s the stuff we’re ashamed of. It’s the stuff that we hide, because it represents a part of ourselves that we don’t want anyone else to see.

As you might imagine, this may become a problem. While it’s healthy to carry some stuff in our shadow side and to recognize what those things are, this bag can only get so full. And as each brick is added, the bag becomes heavier and heavier, to the point when it becomes impossible to carry or pull along behind us.

[picking up the bag (with some strain) and dragging it across the pulpit area is helpful]

Last week we looked at the blind man who because of his faith, found healing.

We also heard of two disciples, James and John, who out of selfishness, didn’t get what they asked for.

And this week, we hear Jesus telling the scribe, “Love God…love one another…all the laws are summed up in these.”

In fact, I believe that Jesus did most everything, if not everything, out of love for us.

But when I read Mark 12:31 something different came to mind for me. The passage reads “You shall love your neighbor as yourself…” but what happens when I don’t love myself. What happens when my shadow side, my anger-fear-disappointment, gets so large that I cannot begin to love.

I. God loves us.

So, doing the Wesley thing, I began a search of the scriptures…and I stumbled across the familiar passage of I John 4:10, which reads…

"This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice

for our sins.” (for our baggage, for our shadow side)

And a few verses later in v. 19 where it says, “We love because he first loved us.”

It seems to me that if we want to unload this stuff we carry, if we truly want to “love ourselves so that we can love others,” than we need to recognize that God loves us.

Isn’t that the message of a song we let our children sing to us …“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.”

When we accept God’s love in its truest form, we realize that it’s not us that makes the difference. But it’s God love living within us that makes us feel accepted.

In John 17:26, Jesus is quoted saying to His Father, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

When we recognize God’s love in us…

...we can let go of the shadow stuff…

...we can forgive and be forgiven,

...we can attempt to make what was wrong, right

...we can let God’s love soothe all the hurt and pain that we’ve experienced.

...we can call this “shadow” stuff by name and either bless it if it is a good thing by reclaiming it

or dismiss it by discarding it if it is not.

God loves you.

God loves me. [have congregation say it with you several times.]

No matter what we’ve done or haven’t done.

No matter what we said or didn’t say.

No matter whom we’ve hurt…even if it is ourselves….

God still loves us..warts and all!

II. God wants us to love us.

And when we understand God’s love for us, then we can begin to look at ourselves differently.

ILUS. – There’s a story of a two-and-a-half year old who was sitting politely at the dinner table, trying his hardest to eat and talk like the grown-ups. “Please pass the salt,” he siad slowly and deliberately. It was passed. “Thank you,” he responded, and sprinkled just a little on his food. Then he blinked and said in a soft, astonished voice, “I…did that…rather…well!”

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