Summary: God loves us. And when we realize that, we can start loving ourselves in order to love others.
“Loving Ourselves in Order to Love Others”
“What Do You Want Me To Do For You?” – Part Two
February 15, 2004
Purpose: God loves us. And when we realize that we can loving ourselves in order to love others.
[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.]
I may be too short
People don’t like my preaching
I intentionally hurt another person
Another person intentionally hurt me
[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.”