Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Recognizing Love

Most of the people I know who are atheists claim that they would believe if God came to them, showed Himself to them, and proved that He was real. Yesterday, as I was reflecting on Christmas and the notion that God loved humanity enough to place His entire being into the womb of a young woman and allow Himself to be made so small and so vulnerable that He was completely dependent upon others for help, I again wondered if the atheists understand that the assumption they are making is that they would recognize God for what He is.  God comes to us in many ways, in many different forms throughout our life, but we often do not detect that He is God because He isn't what we expect.

These same atheists will tell you that they know what love is, but often have a very difficult time sorting out real love from its counterfeits.  They admire the self-sacrificial hero, but think he is a fool for putting the needs of others above his own.  They ridicule those who engage in self-restraint and practice chastity as having "wasted" their lives, when in reality those who practice chastity are showing a great love for their fellow human being.  They mistake lust for love, and call actions that are destructive love.  They mistake feelings of affection for genuine love. Some even go so far as to deny that love exists at all, that it is merely chemical and biological functions, thus proving themselves to be completely ignorant of the nature of love.  In short, they are surrounded by love but they are unable to find it or attain it because they don't recognize it when they see it.

Love isn't a feeling.  There are always times when we do not feel like behaving in a loving manner toward other people, especially those people who are closest to us. In those moments, our love is made real by the decision we make not to act on our selfish feelings but to rise above those feelings and act in a loving manner toward the other person.  Love is made real when we choose to act in a loving manner to the very person who has hurt us the most, damaged us, and devastated us.  This kind of love is powerful.  It is this kind of love that says, "I see who you truly are, ugly spots and all, and I desire you anyway." It is liberating, it is elevating, and it is humbling.

That is the kind of love that God offers us all.  There is no hiding from Him our ugliness, our sins, our faults, our failures, our selfishness.  There is no running from Him, no escape from His view.  He sees it all and He knows us better than anyone else every could.  He knows not only what we have done, but why we have done it.  He understands why we did what we did.  He loves us anyway, pleads for us to come to Him anyway. We have been unfaithful, He wants us anyway.  He pursues us, tries to persuade us in every fashion imaginable, works to win our trust, and woos our hearts.  But, too often we do not recognize Him because we do not recognize love.  We cannot see Him because we are blind to love.

Some of us are blind to love only because we do not want to see it because we fear what love will mean.  We fear the responsibilities, the ties, the restrictions on our freedom that love necessitates.  We fear the changes to our lives and our personalities and the discomfort that may result.  We fear that we may have to give up things that we enjoy doing, ways we behave, and dreams that we have for the sake of love.  So we chase love away, and cling to what is comfortable even if it is not fulfilling us, even if it means there is an ache inside that never goes away.  Until we recognize love for what it is and accept it into our lives, we can never find God because God is love.

I don't think the atheist is intentionally lying. I think he or she genuinely believes that if there were proof, if God came and showed Himself to them, then he or she would believe. It isn't true, of course.  He already has revealed Himself to them a thousand different ways, and He will keep on doing this until the day they die hoping to save them.  Of course, first they have to accept that they are blind, that they cannot see, before God can help them to see.  They have to accept that seeing will change everything for them, transforming every aspect of their lives.  They have to accept that they will have to die to themselves and be completely reborn many, many times over before the process is complete.  However, if they are willing, if they are open to seeing God not as they think Him to be or believe Him to be or wish Him to be, but exactly as He is, they will find that He is right there, waiting for them, just as He always has been.

Popular Posts