As I continue to use The Message for a journey through Psalms during Lent, I found this jewel in Psalm 69:9.
“I love you more than I can say. Because I’m madly in love with you, they blame me for everything they dislike about you.”
Packs a punch, doesn’t it?
Of course the “you” is God.
And the “they” is those who are convicted by the Light they see shining in those who love God and have chosen to walk with Him.
The psalmist, in acknowledging his deep love of God, recognizes that the animosity he encounters by others who DO NOT share this love of God is going to manifest as a personal attack on him.
We see it out there in the world but sometimes fail to comprehend it as the basis for some of the uncomfortable tension we encounter on a more personal level with those who share our bubble.
As I meditated on this concept today, I thought about how difficult it is to feel truly and intimately close to someone if I have to subtract my love for our LORD from that relationship equation.
I can be left feeling defensive, judgmental, critical, cold and even question if I am hypocritical…as in…”I love this person. I love God. God loves this person. Why do I feel this huge wall? Why can’t I express His love to them unconditionally?”
From there my mind rabbit-trailed to looking for an example and here is what I came up with.
It doesn’t fit perfectly because it is a picture based on humans, but here we go…
I love my husband AND I am in a covenant relationship with him.
In all my other relationships, that part of me, that is joined to him, is interwoven into the fabric and context.
If you were, for some reason at odds with him, it would affect our relationship because of the very nature of my love for Russ, expressed in the commitment he and I made to each other.
Any depth to the growth of relationship with someone who is at odds with my husband will be stunted at best and severed at worst.
And here is where my example will need a bit of expansion and fails to be a perfect comparison to what God laid on my heart about this passage.
While the verse helps me realize that my love for God can not be separated from who I am…
therefore, will just BE a factor in all my other relationships…
my covenant with God DOES include unconditional love for all people.
I would naturally take your rejection of my husband personally because, well, he’s my better half and to continue any depth of friendship would smack of betrayal to him.
But this is not how it works in relationships marked with tension because of my love for Jesus.
As we are studying the book of Matthew in our current sermon series, Jesus warned us we would encounter this kind of tension in relationships with non-believers.
His words encourage us to model God in how we respond to those who are not warm toward the God-loving part of who we are.
We are to love them and show grace and mercy to them because He has shown grace and mercy to us.
It isn’t easy but it helps to know that we are not dishonoring God when we extend His love to those who do not love Him back.
I believe as we begin to understand that the issue is not rejection of us but rejection of His Love in us, our hearts expand to see their resistance with God’s eyes.
He desires that none should perish.
So let’s brave a cold shoulder as we continue to extend wide open arms to all people in His Name.
The ability to love those who reject the thing that matters most to us is another Grace-gift from our loving Father.
If you are struggling in this tension in any of your close relationships, ask Him for His love to be poured through you.
I believe this is a prayer He delights to answer.