Saturday, April 12, 2014

Beauty and Love

I needed some humor today. So I flipped on Carol Burnett on YouTube. One of my clips came up with a commercial from Dove. I don't buy their products because they have chemicals and I am trying to avoid those. Plus making soap and lotion is super fun - I admit to getting a little geeky about it. But their commercials are great. This one was about the beauty patch. For two weeks these women wore the patch for 12 hours a day and kept a video diary. At the end of the two weeks, they were glowing with confidence and talking about how much pretty they were. The patch was nothing more than a plain patch. The women were of course amazed and it got me thinking...

There is a woman I know. I don't know her well. I know very little more than her name. But I have heard her say a couple of derogatory things about her body. I know we all do it, but these just caught me so of guard because she seemed to mean them more than most of us do. Also, she is tall - like model tall. Thin, not model thin, but no more than a six I would guess and beautiful. Each time she has said these things I keep wanting to just look at her and say, "Love yourself."And it got me thinking...

 It was not far into my first degree that I started to realize how many problems in the church stem from disbelief. We want to believe. We say we do believe in God. And we do, as much as we can. But there are so many things we just don't really believe. Like that we are loved by God. I do not mean tolerated because of Jesus' sacrifice. I don't mean that God deigns to love us. I do not mean that his love is constantly holding back God's mighty justice and wrath from us sinful humans. I mean that God loves us. That God is joyful when he thinks of us - of you - of me. In all of our imperfections, God loves us with no qualifications.

I know the theologians (especially reformed) of you are qualifying me here - save it for later and listen.

So, how do we move from disbelief? Strangely enough it has very little to do with better preaching, or better Bible study, or more faithful attendance in Sunday school, or Wednesday nights, or at revivals. I really think it has to do with an old fashioned spiritual discipline called meditation.

Yes, Christians meditate and have for years. The biggest difference is that instead of clearing the mind to emptiness, we aim to center the mind on God. Now, let me pull all my thoughts together. If two weeks convinced these women that a patch was making them more beautiful, what would fifty-two weeks of meditating on God's love do for us?

And it is not even overwhelming. Meditation can be long, but it can also be short and as simple as this: Once a day, pause, holding your hands with fists closed and palms down. Think of your fists holding your disbelief in God's love for you. Then, when you are ready, let them open and release the disbelief. Turn them palm up and tell God you receive God's love. Then read, out loud, the meditation verse. Tack it on your fridge or coffeepot, or computer. You don't need to work at this, just be available to let God love you. I mean, don't look up the words in the original language to make sure you really understand them. Don't try to memorize it. Don't feel bad if you forget one day. Let God through the Holy Spirit love you.

Here's one to try: "But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you...Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you..." Isaiah 43: 1-2, 4.

How about you? Do you need more belief in God's love and do you think this might work? Do you have an experience or more than one where you really started to understand what it means to hear, "Jesus loves you?"

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