When we became a Christians it was because we loved God and we loved Jesus. Our pastors and the Bible promised us that they loved us first. After all, Jesus had sacrificed himself for us and for all mankind. God loved us enough to give us breath and then he loved us enough to make provision for our sinfulness. Not only that he made the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth and everything in it for our use and pleasure. Though we never actually heard his voice, though we never saw him we knew he was there because his word told us so. We believed. That’s right, love was the reason for it all.
What next? Now that we were Christians what were we supposed to do? Read our Bibles, pray, and go to Church? We did. Faithfully. Beyond that what was there? Reading the Bible and praying and going to Church didn’t seem to be enough. If we were truly in a relationship with Jesus shouldn’t it change us? A reading of the New Testament tells that is so. Change us it did.
John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We took that to heart and let that shape our thinking. Apart from Jesus we could do nothing. And for the most part we didn’t without consulting him in prayer. In addition Matthew 22:37 says, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The Bible is literal, right? We did our best to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds. It’s the greatest commandment, isn’t it? Well, what does that mean? To love God like that? According to John 14:14 Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” If we were a part of the fundamentalist Christian movement we believed that “He must increase; I must become decrease.” John 3:30 and that The first will be last and the last will be first.” Matthew 20:16
We learned that we couldn’t or shouldn’t do anything without God. Our wisdom? What wisdom? None apart from God. Our strength? What strength? We have none. Our hearts? What hearts? They belong to God. In every way we diligently tried to conform to the will of God. This is all supposed to be our joy to do. Each time we handed over another piece of ourselves to God we were delighted. Why were we delighted? Because we thought we were delighting Him. We thought we were pleasing the Almighty Himself. What greater joy could there be?
In the beatitudes we are exhorted thusly, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:3-11
We are to be completely enmeshed in God, believing His every promise. God has found lost little us and we have gained heaven. We are to allow the Holy Spirit, with whom we’ve been baptised, live through us to be gentle, to learn His ways, to show mercy, to remain pure, to keep the peace and to be the bigger person. It is no longer us, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). We are meant to have no will of our own, no thoughts of our own, no things of our own. Not only are we supposed to be this obedient to God, but to any authority he has placed over us. Parents, husbands, pastors, teachers, employers. Give ourselves. Give our all. To serve, to please, to help, and to take care of others. We became rescuers, martyrs, the persecuted and persecutors.
Now we have a hard time knowing what we like, what we want, how we feel. We feel guilty when we put ourselves first, when we make a priority of taking care of us, and meeting our own needs. We second guess ourselves because we’re not supposed to trust our own judgement. Many of the patterns and characteristics of codependents fit us to a tee. Because that is what we were and maybe still are. We were in a one-sided relationship where the other wanted all our attention, praise, and efforts. It is an unhealthy way to relate to another. And yet, as Christians, that is what we are told we must be to please God.
We cannot be ourselves. Not until we develop some healthy boundaries which then make the relationship untenable. Slowly but surely the distance in the relationship grows larger and it dies. But we have not. A miracle has happened. We have broken free.