Summary: A sermon about over-coming self-hate.
A friend of mine told me about a time he was counseling a teenage girl.
She was depressed and contemplating suicide.
She was filled with self-hatred and used to cut herself.
At one point in the conversation, my friend stood up, pulled a Cross off the wall in his office, looked the young lady in the eyes and said: “Look at this. Just look at this. This is how much God loves you! This is how important you are.”
Have you ever experienced self-hatred.
It can be mild or extreme.
It influences a person’s thoughts, the choices they make, the actions they take, the boyfriends or girlfriends they select, and the relationships they create.
In our culture self-hatred is epidemic, experts say that it affects almost everyone to some degree—even those who are able to do a really good job of hiding it under a covering of success or looking good.
Living with self-hatred is like living with an inner bully.
The bully criticizes and judges constantly, making us feel worthless, bad, ugly, disgusting, fat, mean, strange, not good enough or like a failure.
The inner bully also convinces us that people around us view us the same way, and that God views us the same way as well.
This can lead to anxiety, depression.
It’s been said that “self-hatred is the hidden underbelly of all the violence and nastiness in the world.”
And I think there is real truth to that.
But where does it come from?
And what can we do about it?
In our Scripture Passage for this morning Paul is confronting some kind of false teaching which has infiltrated the young church and caused the folks to question their relationship with God and wonder if they are “good enough” in God’s eyes.
Somebody, or some group of folks have messed up these people’s minds telling them that what Jesus did on the Cross is not enough.
In order to truly be loved and accepted by God they must perform certain tasks, follow certain laws.
And this kind of stuff can be very believable.
It’s easy to fall prey to it.
Just take a look at how many cults there are and have been and the damage these things have done to human beings.
Or how about churches that teach a very unhealthy and distorted understanding of God and God’s grace and love.
Paul writes: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceitful philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ…”
“Don’t let anyone judge you by…the written code…by what you eat or drink…”
“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!
These rules…are based on human commands…
They have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value…”
As Christians, it often seems like we are trying to add more and more stuff to try and make God love us…
“Don’t say that.”
“You gotta do this.”
“You gotta do that.”
But in our Scripture Passage from Colossians Paul is saying that this is terribly destructive and is a deceptive teaching, not based on Christ, but on “the elemental forces of this world.”
And if we “fall” for this stuff, we will be “taken captive” by it.
I remember in college, feeling so bad about my inability to “measure up” to what I thought Christianity was about.
I felt like I was a person living in the hands of an “angry god” and I had to act and do things in a certain way in order to please this “angry god.”
But I kept falling short.
And every time I fell short I became more and more discouraged.
And with that discouragement came depression, guilt, hopelessness, a general feeling of unhappiness…
It’s like I thought there were a whole long list of rules and regulations that I needed to follow in order to be on God’s side, in order for God to love me, in order to be saved.
It’s as if God’s love is conditional rather than unconditional.
I saw God as moralistic and judgmental; concerned with the externals.
“Don’t do this, don’t think that!”
And so, I felt lost, in bondage.
There seemed to be no way out.
Have you ever felt this way?
Perhaps you feel this way now?
Maybe you imagine God looking down on you with a disgusted sneer.
Or even worse, perhaps you feel as if God has given up on you—turned His back on you.
Do you feel as if you are not good enough?
Have you missed the mark?
Has your train derailed?
Does a bit of self-hatred follow your every move…or does it even lead you, like an evil master?