Summary: In this message, part 14 in the series Love Never Dies, Dave sees in Peter's resistance to Christ washing his feet a resistance that we all have to receiving grace and love.
Love Never Dies, prt. 14
Wildwind Community Church
July 11, 2010
The longer I do counseling and the more I come to learn about people, the more I believe that what is most deeply wrong with us as human beings is that we chronically resist grace. We chronically turn away from those who are trying to love us, to be kind to us, to accept us for who we are. We chronically refuse to submit to the overtures of people around us who wish to know us, be close to us, and share life with us. It’s easy to say in church, and we often do say, that people are broken. But what’s broken about people? I think when we talk about human brokenness, we’re talking about the fact that we have this overwhelming and deep need to be loved, and yet at the same time, we struggle to accept love when it is given to us. Now when I say we, I’m not just talking about myself and a couple of other people. I’m talking about nearly all of us in this room today – perhaps every last one of us. I really think this difficulty in accepting grace, in allowing people to simply be gracious to us, kind to us, to love us – is one of the deepest symptoms of human brokenness. I have shared with you before that I like to refer to human relationships with the phrase “noble tragedy.” Human relationships, really, are noble tragedies. They are tragic because of this deep wounding we all have that keeps us from receiving grace – receiving from people what we most need – despite how deeply we need it. Yet relationships are noble because, despite my wounding, and your wounding, and the extremely hard time we have accepting what God and others are trying to freely give us, we keep trying. I mean, most of us do. We keep getting into relationships. We keep giving it a crack! We keep hoping that this next one will work out better. We’re all Energizer Bunnies of love. We’re just like that little guy – banging on our love drum, marching back and forth and up and down, beating that drum day in and day out, LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME. Just like that little bunny, we often don’t even have any specific direction, but rather our whole point is to simply keep on beating that drum and to never, ever stop – to keep going, and going, and going, and going. When one relationship gets strained, we take off and find another one. When that one goes bad, we leave it and start again. Or else we do the opposite thing for reasons that are just as bad – we stay in bad relationships month after month, year after year, keep beating our love drum, and never stop to ask ourselves what is it that’s happening. Whether we keep ditching bad relationships and starting over, or whether we chronically stay in terrible ones is not the point. The point is that we can do either one of those things as a pattern throughout our whole lives and never stop to consider the tragedy – the brokenness that lies underneath – the gaping hole that is in your heart and mine that drives us to desire love that we then cannot accept, that drives us to accept cheap substitutes either by constantly ditching good people who sincerely are trying to love us, or by staying with bad people who are just in it for themselves.
It can be as extreme as the wife who stays in a physically abusive relationship year after year and accepts that terrible substitute for love. Or it can be as subtle as the husband whose wife tries desperately to connect to him day after day, but he just buries himself in his newspaper, in his football game – accepting those terrible substitutes for love -- unable to look at her and connect to her, unable to allow her love to matter enough to reach him. Noble. Tragic. That is the story of human love. It even reaches into our everyday worlds, where a man who really loves his family still finds himself retreating into anger and fear and silence instead of honestly admitting them and facing his darkness with courage. Or where a woman complains constantly about her husband not paying attention to her, but doesn’t see that she busies herself as much with housework as he does with work in the garage, or with the football game. Ships pass in the night right next to one another, and we are content to call it love. Or they collide with wild fury and deeply wound each other, and we are content to call it love. Either way, we miss what is ours. We miss the place of connection, the place of union.