Monday, December 19, 2011

It's ALL about Jesus!

Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty-- the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come." Revelation 4:8
As we jump into a series of posts on the subject of heaven, I think the first, and most important concept we need to understand is that it's ALL ABOUT JESUS! Heaven has nothing to do with a fulfillment of our personal pleasures; it has everything to do with Jesus. It's not about relief from pain; it's about Jesus. It's not about any of the great number of wonderful things that will possibly await us; it's about Jesus! Jesus is not a means to an end. He is THE end!

So, knowing this, what effect should it have on our lives? Remember, the purpose of all of this is not simply to get us excited about the things to come; the purpose is to teach us how we should live now, in light of the things we know about our future. If heaven is going to be all about Jesus, then there is not a single good reason why any aspect of our lives now, no matter how small, should not also be ALL about Jesus!

The concept of raising our self-esteem is beyond common practice, almost an inherent quality, that we as a community, even within the Christian church, possess. There are millions of books and movies and television shows and motivational conferences and even Sunday sermons out there that are adamant in their teachings that (1) many of us have low self-esteem, (2) this is a bad thing, and (3) we not only deserve to have a high opinion of ourselves, we actually must have such an opinion in order to function properly in society.

This distorted outlook on life has penetrated even into popular Christian culture. There is a song by Natalie Grant that is played on Christian radio stations, which proclaims this very notion. In one line, she sings...
"And you can't love, if you don't love yourself..." -In Better Hands Now
I point this out, not to condemn Natalie Grant; in fact, I am a huge fan of her music. I point it out simply to demonstrate how easily the world's values can become our own if we are not careful. Think about what this artist is saying here, and sadly, what so many of us say everyday. "You can't love, if you don't love yourself." This is not even remotely biblical. No where in the Bible is there even the faintest indication that in order for me to love my neighbor as Christ loved the church, I must first learn to love myself. In fact, it says just the opposite...
1 John 4:19 says, "We love because He first loved us!"
...and likewise...
"He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." John 3:30
BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US! It is Christ's love for me that empowers me and compels me to love others! What a difference there is in those two "requirements" or "motivations" for love. One says that I must work to grow in love, and not even for God, but for myself before I will be capable of loving others. The other says that it is God's love, something which always has and always will exist without fail, regardless of how I feel or whether I deserve it, that works in me, without my striving or consent, to supernaturally compel me to love, not only to feel love, but to act in love.

In fact, if we are truly honest with ourselves, the more we come to know ourselves for who we really are, the more we realize that there really isn't much to love. We're pretty rotten creatures. Were it not for the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of his Holy Spirit, we would be fit for nothing less than the depths of hell. I mean, really. What's to love about that? It is JESUS that makes me worth something. It is JESUS that fills me with anything even remotely worthwhile.
I don't need more self-esteem. I need more JESUS-esteem. I don't need to love myself more. I need to love JESUS more! Our ability to love and serve others has NOTHING to do with loving ourselves.
The point is not to berate ourselves or to belittle ourselves. The point is to lay aside our wants, our needs, our ambitions, our pride, our agendas and say, "Jesus is the only one with any claim to any kind of want, need, ambition, pride, or agenda. His wishes and desires are the only ones that matter. So I will worship him, I will exalt him, and I will serve others, not because I feel like it today or because I like myself today or because I happen to have a little room in my schedule today, but because Jesus has already given me all that I have or will ever need!"
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead he gave up his divine privileges, he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8
It always has been, and it always will be, ALL ABOUT JESUS! Heaven is going to be a glorious reunion. I cannot wait to see my savior, to hug him, to talk to him, to see his face, and to finally fall at his feet and worship him in person! Why on earth would I waste a single moment fretting about whether or not I luv myself enough or whether I have a high enough opinion of myself when I could be spending that time formulating the correct opinion of Jesus and falling more and more in love simply with Him? Why would you? Heaven starts here and now. Let's start a Jesus-esteem revolution!

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