Whatever else it means to be human, we know beyond doubt that it means to be relational. Aren’t the greatest joys and memories of your life associated with family, friendship, or falling in love? Aren’t your deepest wounds somehow connected to someone also, to a failure of relationship? That you were loved but are no longer, or that you never have been chosen? One of the deepest of all human longings is the longing to belong, to be a part of things, to be invited in. We want to be part of the fellowship. Where did that come from? So, too, our greatest sorrows stem from losing the ones we love. Byron lamented, “What is the worst of woes that wait on age? What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow? To view each loved one blotted from life’s page, and be alone on earth, as I am now”.
Loneliness might be the hardest cross we bear. Why else would we have come up with solitary confinement as a form of punishment? We are relational to the core. We are made, as it says in Genesis, in the image of God or, better, in the image of the Trinity: “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). Meister Eckhart had it right when he said that we are born out of the laughter of the Trinity. From the Heart of the universe come our beating hearts. From this Fellowship spring all of our longings for a friend, a family, a fellowship—for someplace to belong.
Freedom comes only as we bring these unsanctified and unholy places under the rule of Jesus Christ, so that he can possess these very places deeply and truly. Therefore, part of this first step involves sanctifying the place of bondage to Christ. If it’s sexual, you sanctify your sexuality to Christ; if its emotional (as with rage) you sanctify your emotions; if it involves addiction you sanctify your appetite, your obsession, and your body. If you want to be free in this place, it must come under the total, intimate, ongoing rule of God. God has promised to give us His Holy Spirit. Pray that God will fill you with Himself! Be persistent in that prayer. If you are, God will fill you with His presence!
Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:12–14). There is hope of freedom because of what Christ has done. Now we have an option. But we do have to stop presenting ourselves over to sin as best we can. Our choices matter. We need to renounce the ways we have presented ourselves to sin, and re-present ourselves to Christ. It is only a beginning, but this is very important.
Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Jesus said this was the first and greatest commandment. So let’s keep this simple: Do you love God? It all starts there. Make a practice of loving God. “But how?” a friend asked. How do you love any of the people or the things that you currently love? You delight in them. You give your heart over to them. You choose them over other things and other people. They hold a special place in your heart. They get the lion’s share of your time, your attention, your presence. Don’t they? Then this is what we do—we give our whole heart to God. We make him the treasure of our life.
It will be a profound moral rescue. It’s pretty hard to lust after someone if in that very moment you start saying, Jesus, I love you, I love you, I love you. It’s pretty hard to hold bitterness toward someone if in that very moment you start loving God. Whatever it is we find ourselves struggling with, right then and there in that very place we practice loving God and what we find is that our heart is freed to be good again. Loving God alone will heal your humanity. It’s what you were made for.
Loving God is the centering of your existence as a human being. It’s the restoration of your reason for existence. What a relief it is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Again, this is why mere “morality” can never substitute for true holiness. You can keep all the rules you think are important and not love God. This is where it all begins, truly loving Jesus with all your heart. Where things are out of whack, that is where our repenting needs to take place. God is faithful!