Friday, 22 November 2013

Don't go changing... (cont)

So as to not keep all you guys desperately waiting for the second part of this post over the weekend (in a sort of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi way) here is part two...

'Don't go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before,
And don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you any more'

If unconditional love and acceptance are ours then the outworking is obvious. Don't change. I mean why change we've been accepted, we've been loved for who we are so why change? This is what drives me insane about the song. Anyone who goes into marriage thinking that they won't change as a result of it has surely got it wrong. If marriage is going to work then both people will have to change. I mean that's just part of loving someone else.

However, more than change being a necessity it is actually an inevitability. Relationships change people. When people talk about someone 'falling in with a bad crowd' it is because they know that who we are in relationship with changes who we are. Relationships change people. Love changes people.

So it is with God. God's acceptance and love of us is not conditional but this unconditional love cannot leave us the same. Being in relationship with God cannot leave us the same. We don't change simply out of duty, or out of will power but rather we change because an understanding of God's love for us will change us.
As we understand the magnitude of God's love for us we love others
As we understand the degree to which God has forgiven us we forgive others
As we see God's unconditional acceptance of us we accept other people

Therefore the biggest key to Christian transformation. The most life changing thing which can happen is for us to understand the love of God for us. This is why in Ephesians 3 Paul prays this...
'I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.'

Paul just wants you to get how much God loves you because that is what will bring about the changes of chapter 4. We change not because we need to for God to love us but because as we see God's love for us it's impossible for us to stay the same.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Don't go changing...

Don't go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before,
And don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you any more

I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far,
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are...

...I said I love you and that's forever
And it’s a promise from the heart
I couldn’t love you any better
I love you just the way you are

So Billy Joel - Wedding after Wedding after Wedding this get's rolled out and every time I find it increasingly nauseating. It's just so saccharin and, well I'm not sure what exactly it is, but I just find it hard work. However, a conversation with someone who quite liked it forced me to re-evaluate.

Why is it that it gets rolled out at weddings? Well I reckon it's because at its most basic level it articulates the great desire of the human heart and the great essential for marriage - Unconditional love. Unconditional acceptance.

We all long to hear that someone loves us and accepts us unconditionally because the alternative is just too stressful. The alternative is conditional love and conditional acceptance. Conditional love leaves us edgy - I mean what if we don't meet the condition? What if I'm not good enough, what if I'm not romantic enough, what if I'm not fun enough? So we stress trying to be everything we can so that they still like us, so that they still love us. That's life for most of us. Unconditional love feels unattainable so life is one big stress as we try to ensure that we meet whatever, often unnamed, conditions are required for our acceptance and our love. So if we feel like we've got unconditional acceptance, unconditional love. Well that's the holy grail.

What applies for people applies for God. So many people think that God's love is conditional. If I'm good enough, if I pray enough, if I read my Bible enough, if I'm nice enough, if I do the right things then God will love and accept me but if not then we're out. It's a stressful place to be for most people as they run around just hoping they don't step too far out of line.

However, no-one has ever offered a love more unconditional than God's. God's love was so unconditional that he went to the cross for us before we were even born. God is the great husband who gave himself up for you. Not for a better version of you. Not for you when you sort your life out but for you. So the great desire for unconditional love and acceptance is actually a desire for something which is already out there - It's a desire for God.

Now what does this mean? Well it means we don't need to change doesn't it. I mean it's obvious... isn't it???

(to be continued)