I’m not sure, but I’m beginning to think that there’s a lot of people like me that suffer from a fear of being selfish. So much so that we can’t really experience the love of God because we fear that it’s wrong to experience something so intensely focused on us. I realized this today at work.
I was just sitting there listening to "More Than A Friend" off of my favorite album right now by Jeremy Riddle. The words and the melody of the song were hitting me deep, right there at my job. At that moment I felt so validated, so complete. But my only thought was "I have to find a way to show other people that this is possible." As I followed that train of thought, I found myself getting frustrated because I realized how futile it is to explain something like that to someone who isn’t looking for it.
Suddenly I felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit inside me. "Let this be just for you."
Instantly I looked back on my life. I realized that every time I had begun to experience something from the Lord that was changing my life, my first reaction was to try and tell someone else about it. To have it change their life even before my change was really started. This has happened enough to make me wonder why I have that reaction. I think I understand it now.
Somehow through a culture of religious piety, and the wrong kind of fear of God, many of us have an indwelling fear of being focused on ourselves. Our attention is always focused outwardly. We are happy when the people around us are happy. And if we do enough good for those around us, we may even convince ourselves that we really are pleasing to God because we’re so unselfish.
So what happens when an intoxicating, and refreshing sensation like the presence of God interrupts our day? I can’t speak for anyone else, but if I’m to be honest, it makes me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because it feels selfish. Uncomfortable because I’m afraid it can’t be real if it’s happening to me and not someone else. Uncomfortable because it’s focused on me. And so I try to shift the focus onto others, again, and again, and again. I’m so used to being focused on everyone else, that to sit there and just bask in something that’s there just for me feels wrong. And that’s sad.
I think that it’s a slight perversion of Jesus’ sacrifice to think that Jesus was focused on "others" because he gave his life for us. That’s a cop out. Jesus was focused on His Father. He even asked that if it be His Father’s will, that this cup (dying ) be taken from Him. So to say that Jesus was focused on us, and that He loved us so much is missing the point. Jesus only wanted to do what His Father’s will was. Therefore, He was focused on him. That’s our model.
It’s also a mis-interpretation to think that God sent Jesus for "others". God sent Jesus for me. He didn’t include me because there were some other people he really wanted. He wanted me. He didn’t send Jesus for a big group of people. He sent Jesus for each and every individual person. There’s no "group benefit" to salvation. It’s individual.
I’m realizing that salvation is intensely personal. And seeing our relationship with God in terms of other people only cheapens the sacrifice that he asked Jesus to make. It’s so uncomfortable for me to think of God looking at me, just at me and saying "I sent him to save YOU." Because I feel like somehow it’s wrong for me to be worth saving all by myself.
God never intended his focus on each and every heart to be diffracted and reflected by our fear of receiving something good that’s just for us. His love is supposed to be a beam of light so strong that it cuts directly through the eyes of our heart, changing us from the inside out. The thing about our eyes is that when we look away from the light, it doesn’t get into our eyes. I may look away, but his love is always shining right into my eyes, waiting for me to forget about my obligations, forget about my "good Christian" duties, and just look at him. To soak in the individual focus that he has on each of us. It’s only then that I can be transformed from the inside out because his light can only get in when I’m looking straight at him.