I went to church last Sunday here in Banning, C.A, a place I'd been several times five years ago. I respect the pastor, Jerry, but found myself nonetheless making slightly angry mental revisions to some statements he made. While I understand and appreciate the sentiment behind the statements, they would be more effective with more accurate use of vocabulary.
The first statement he made was that "we do not deserve anything." BIG no-no thinking in my book. What he really meant to say was that "we should be grateful for everything we get" and I am grateful. But to tell children of God that they do not deserve anything that God gives them is the same as saying that we were not born to live in love, so we should just stop trying for it. Or look at it this way, if that is true, and I do not deserve anything, but God chose to give me much anyway, I'll assume then that it would hurt His feelings if I returned the gifts and said, "Uhh, no thanks. I don't really deserve . . ." The number one thing we must do to be successful as decent human beings is love ourselves. In order to do that, we must believe that we deserve love. The universe (God) gives gifts to those who ask, to those who believe not only that they will receive the gift but that their reasons for wanting it are good and valid. We cannot go about thinking, "I am unworthy, Lord . . ." Rather we must say, "I humbly accept your blessings and I choose to use them wisely." I felt like the pastor was punishing everyone listening to him for perhaps having ego-enhancing thoughts, and I thought, what's wrong with those? The real question is, what will you choose to do with your ego? To harm or to heal? Just as God says it is not what goes into a man's body that makes him unclean but what comes out of his heart, so, too, is our control over what comes out of us after the blessings. I know that if God gave me a mansion and I said, "Oh, I am unworthy!" He'd say, okay, then, I'll just give it to John, who really wants one so he can skateboard down the banister. We might as well enjoy ourselves. That is what the Blood allows. Trust me, there is enough involuntary suffering despite the maximum amount of self-love possible that there is no need to self-inflict any more suffering. If your heart is one with God, your intentions pure, ask and receive away is what I say.
The second statement he made is similar to the first. He said that "we should not focus on ourselves." Again, I appreciate his intent here, but he mucked its presentation up. What he meant is that we should not ONLY be focused on ourselves all of the time. We should love. But what he overlooked is that God made us to experience the glory of His creation fully THROUGH our bodies, hearts, and minds. Therefore ourselves are the only vessel to reach Him that we have. We follow our own paths, not other people's paths. I would say love for others begins with love for the self, but again, aligned with the spirit of Christ so that you won't go dark with selfishness. My selfishness could never look like me grabbing the biggest T.V on Black Friday, elbowing an old lady out of my way to get it. I did not receive a greedy nature through Christ. What I did receive is the desire to feel good and be happy and be happy according to the proper way to be happy, not a perverted one like greed (which, let's face it, never leads to happiness anyway because joy comes from the Father therefore any pursuit that does not adhere to His law cannot achieve His outcome). My selfishness looks like this: confidence, belief in myself, ability to speak my mind, freedom to pursue my God-given desires, appreciation of the beauty of my body and all its functions, as well as an appreciation for all of the luxuries God afforded me here on earth: the sun, the wind, etc. Start with the self, then extend yourself to others.
Be a believing receiver. Be a wholesome selfish. Thanks.