Summary: Too often we are taught that it is wrong to love ourselves but is that really what the bible teaches?
What Jesus Said about Self Love
This is week five of our “What Jesus Said About Emotions” series. And emotions are a part of each one of us. God created us as emotional beings, within the first three chapters of the story we watch the first couple as they experience loneliness, joy, love, envy, fear and shame.
And we are all to some degree emotional people, some more so and others to a lesser degree but we all feel and experience emotions. Or at least we are supposed to. And so when I started the series the first of May there were probably weren’t any surprises. And the first four messages were pretty easy to figure out. Week one was “What Jesus said About Love”, week two was “What Jesus Said About Hate”, week three was “What Jesus Said About Fear” and then last week we looked at “What Jesus Said About Joy”. And those were easy, you knew what was coming. We should love, we should be happy and we ought to avoid hating people and feeling afraid. No big surprises there. Those of you who grab the note taking guides off the information table could have probably filled in the blanks yourself.
Next week we are making a shift, we are going to start our Series on “What Jesus said About Himself”, and through the summer we are going to look at all the “I Am” statements that Jesus made, you know: “I am the vine”, “I am the Light of the World”, “I am the Bread of Life” etc. etc.
But this is the last week of our series on emotions. I thought about preaching on envy, worry or depression and any one of those would have been good topics, relevant subjects. And to a certain degree we have touched on those a little bit in the first four messages. When I spoke about anger I mentioned that we often became angry because of envy, we become angry because others have what we don’t have. When I spoke about fear we touched on worry, and how that eventually produces fear and last week I spoke about Joy and to a certain degree the flip side of that is depression.
So where are we going today? Today I want to focus on “How you feel about yourself” and so this morning we are looking at “What Jesus said about Self Love.” And that one isn’t so easy is it? There are probably those of you who are thinking “Well we aren’t supposed to love ourselves, didn’t Denn pay attention to the scripture reading? Love God and Love others.” And for many that is the bottom line, it should never be about self, that’s why we are taught to be selfless not selfish. It’s why within the church we find those who celebrate the Mother Theresas in life and scorn the Madonnas. Theresa is celebrated for not thinking of herself while it is felt that Madonna only thinks about herself.
But is that what Jesus really taught? Did he teach his apostles to feel nothing but scorn for who they are and what they are? There are certainly those out there who would suggest that. Anyone who watched or read “The Da Vinci Code” remembers the villain of the piece was a monk named Silas, who was part of a Catholic organization called “Opus Dei” Probably the most disturbing images in the movie and the book revolved around Silas punishing himself, first with the cilice, a small chain with inward pointing spikes worn around the upper thigh for up to two hours a day and secondly through flagellation that is whipping himself with a whip called a discipline. And while “The Da Vinci Code” was fiction and the portrayal of Opus Dei was somewhat less than accurate there have been Christian factions through the centuries who have promoted very similar philosophies. And those practices were designed to remind people of how unworthy there were in the eyes of God and how unworthy they should consider themselves in their own eyes.
And I would challenge that. Let’s listen to Jesus words again. Mark 12:29-31 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
A little background here, Jesus had begun the day teaching the crowds who had gathered and was interrupted first by the Pharisees and the Herodians who challenged him with questions about taxation trying to trap him. And then it was the Sadducees who wanted to debate his views on the resurrection of the dead. Now one of the teachers of religious law asks Jesus “Of all the commandments which is the most important?” And Jesus reaches back into the Old Testament for his answer. The first part of his answer comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” And then he adds to that Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”