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Defragmenting Love

• Greg Boyd

All of us long for deep contact with God and with others. Yet, fear of judgment and having no space in our lives to develop deep contact hinder us when trying to find deep contact with others. God wants us to know that we need not fear judgment to make space in our lives for contact with Him and others.

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All of us have an inner personality that longs for deep contact with another person. This personality of ours is the real us and wants to connect, to know and be known by others. But a fear of judgment and our inability to make space in our lives can lead us to have superficial relationships. We become fragmented when we don’t have these deep relationships, and our outer projection of perfection is all people see.

We long for others to share our world, validate our lives, and show that we’re loved and significant. All of us are constantly reaching out for this contact because God made us to be relational. God first made a vacuum inside of us that only God can fill. This relational vacuum is for God alone, although some try to fill it with other things. God also created us to want relationships with other humans. This is why God said it is “not good” for Adam to be alone in the Garden of Eden—even though God and Adam had a flawless relationship. We were created not just to receive the fullness of God’s love, but to replicate that fullness in our relationship with others.

As Paul points out, however, that Kingdom reality of full relationship with God and others has not happened yet. Even though this promise has not yet been fulfilled, we as Kingdom people should strive to make it a reality in our lives. We are called to cultivate relationships that are open, honest, disclosive, and free of pretense and shame. The real question becomes: if we want relationships that are open, honest, and free of pretense and games, then why do we keep hiding, lying, and feeling ashamed and pretending? There are many reasons for this, but two stand out.

The first reason is we fear judgment. Adam and Eve, when they ate from the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, covered themselves because the accuser had gotten into their heads. They judged each other, and so they felt ashamed in front of each other and God. This is us today. We hide and judge each other because we feel that if we were to know and be known, then people wouldn’t accept us and God wouldn’t accept us. In exchange, we settle for superficial relationships.

To conquer this fear, we must see Jesus as He is. Jesus is Truth, which in the Greek means the uncovering. Jesus unveils the True God, and also uncovers the truth that the accuser has lied to us about—the truth we see on the Cross. The Cross shows God screaming His love at us. He’s the God who loves us and has always loved us. He’s the God who chooses to suffer rather than judge us. He’s the God that we don’t need to hide from. He knows all our sins, yet He loves us anyways, which is why He died for us.

We already know the worst thing that each of us has done, because our sins put Christ on the Cross. This means that there is nothing greater that you’ve done that we can know about. There is no greater sin in your life. So stop playing games and get real with one another. This is how we can speak truth to one another and how we can be honest about our own lives with one another.

The second issue that prevents deep contact in our relationships is the lack of space. Deep relationships take intentionality, work, and time. Most of us, however, have many different pulls on our time and this causes fragmentation in our lives. One of the major space takers in our life is technology. Technology, such as cell phones, can lead to interruptions and distractions from the important things in our lives. This can be the hidden price tag of technology, as a phone call can pull us away from precious moments with family and friends.

Quantity and quality are inversely proportional values in relationships. The more relationships we have, the less quality they are. The more quality relationships we have, the less quantity of relationships we have. It seems that our facebook friend counter isn’t as important as we might have thought.

There are three suggestions for solving our deep contact problems. The first is to trust Christ and renounce judgment. We need to regularly offer up our real self to God, and this can free us from judgment because God has already shown on the Cross that we need not fear His love.

The second suggestion is to offer up all our relationships to God. Asking God which relationships to hold onto, and which relationships to let go of, can help us become less divided in our relationships. The third suggestion is to make space in your life for deep contact. Reflecting on the hectic pace of life can help lead us to ways to cut back on certain things in order to create room for deep relationships.

 

(The poem at the beginning of the sermon was written and read by Terri Churchill.)

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Topics: Community, Fear, Individualism, Relationships, Simplicity, Transformation

Sermon Series: Undivided


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Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:12-13

    Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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6 thoughts on “Defragmenting Love

    Vinny says: Monday November 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Great message!

    Hey Greg- I enjoyed the way you used Pink Floyd’s song for the “Punching Clocks” sermon, have you ever heard the song “Eminence Front” by The Who? I think it really coincides with this one! Check it out!

    – Vinny

    Reply
    Rick Nelson says: Tuesday November 16, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I’m working through this book, and the time I spend is worthwhile toward that end. What is coming out of me at this point has become a dichotomy of faith and mining the truth of it.

    I do not mean a stepping back of my faith. I mean that I think “No, that doesn’t apply to me”, with rebellion. Again, clarity of my purpose will (I hope) make it clear what I mean. I want to express how it is to think when I have faith, but do not lean on our Lord as I hear it stated over and over again, through our song, sermons and teachings.

    I know my upbringing has a lot to do with this, and I did not enter the existance of living that has graced Gregs description of freinds. I would have desired such an existance over an over during my life. I’ve even cultivated a certain amount of it over my life. But, I knew that getting involved with international bible studies would mean an ending. They would leave, I would stay and the memory is there, but the relationship is a memory. Now, as I reflect upon this series, this particular sermon and what I present in the opening of my post I don’t know how much to express.

    I don’t think most who attend sermons wants to express themselves with openness as I would desire them to. I do know that if I were to get them in a small group, and I express myself, then, I can expect a certain amount of reciprocation. My desire is to learn, I want to show I care, that it’s ok to be vulnerable and let out the ideas that we deem scary. All of this I think about, I wonder over and reflect, yet again I come back to “God wants to love me”.

    Here is the crux of this post, all the words up to it, are an attempt to get it out. I listen to a sermon, a song, others, or read and when it comes to “God wants to love me” I become reserved and pull back. This has a lot to do, and likely everything to do with my childhood experiences with isolation, feelings of deep insecurity, hopelessness and mental/physical abuse. Yet, as an adult I can reject most of that intellectually. But, that doesn’t make it easier to listen to words like “God wants to love me”. Those words or reflection bring deep sorrow. Its ever present, none ending and I don’t see an end.

    Here’s the scariest part of life. The prodigal son sermon is my hope of all hopes. Not that I’m a prodigal in so many ways. I’ve done my share, but I’ve not completely let my faith go. I’ve rebeled, I’ve been deep into anger and so forth. I expect many would admit to this. (so why not here?) Are we less likeable, loveable? Perhaps the transient nature of relationships for a vast majority of us has led to the way I reflect?

    Tell me—

    What about you?

    Reply
    Rachel Schwenke says: Wednesday November 17, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Hi Rick! It’s been a joy journeying with you in a small group.

    I do think that the crux on all this Undivided Series is really, down deep in our bones, accepting the love God has for us. Once we know that unshakably, it becomes easy to relinquish our hold of time & possessions and open ourselves up to relationship.

    But I appreciate your honesty in saying that although it is the hope of all your hopes, you have reservations to God’s love for you. I admit so do I.

    There are times where I feel absolutely wrapped in God’s love and times when I feel terribly alone. I have to keep bringing myself back to the cross, trusting and believing. This reminds me always of the passage where Jesus asks his disciples, “Are you going to leave too?” and they reply back “Where else could we go to hear the words of life?”

    I am pinning all my hopes on this unfathomable love of God. There is no other hope.

    From that center, I choose to love others and expand the love that I feel through the “down-payment” of the Holy Spirit.

    Thanks all!

    Reply
    Carol Williams says: Saturday November 20, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    How amazing how the Lord speaks and confirms and teaches those things that come to light. I just listened to this after a week of feeling fragmented. It surprises me when this occurs…as fragmentation was constant for years, but rare to the point of non-existent for the previous few years.

    A season of change is what I call it…a woman of 53 going through hormonal changes and a move from one location to another the other change…fragmentation arose…and the knowing and remembering and reminding to turn to Jesus…repeatedly as needed is what has kept me this past week. Most times the reminders were from my spirit…or from knowing to push through any fickle feelings…and have faith in God’s goodness…and by remembering where I’ve come from…I have trust that it will all work together for good…if not here on earth…certainly in eternity:)!

    So, after listening to this teaching…I read the comments…and I have said a prayer for each…and being thankful that their are others out there that are also pressing forward…being real…and reaching out to Jesus…and others.

    Blessings…I must go spend time with one and another…rejoicing always for these opportunities:)

    Reply

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    Patricia Mikkelson, professional organizer and homeschooling mom says: Saturday November 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Before I gave my life to Christ at about age 47 (I am now 58) I was so into being vulnerable and honest and community was a high priority in my life. But I got hurt so often from having this attitude which was developed when I started going to transformational seminars like Insight and Jack Canfield’s self esteem seminars. I made relationships my god. Even though I believed in God, I could not believe that Jesus was God, the bible was true and there was only one way to salvation.

    But the sad thing about being a Christian is that the more vulnerable and open I became with my church community, the more under attack I came. When I expressed my doubts, I was asked to step down from all leadership and any participation besides just attending church so I could be ministered to.

    Community has been my passion since I was 21. Again, I made this my god. But in the past three years or so, I have let go of dependency upon approval of other Christians which has been freeing.

    It is such a long story–but what i am trying to say is that everything you spoke about rang true with what I have for all of my adult life wanted–but the missing things was the relationship with Jesus. When you said that our relationship with God can never out run our relationship with people, this rang true for me. I want an ever more intimate relationship, moment to moment. That is what all your sermons point towards.

    thanks so much for your edifying, inspiring, practical and helpful words. I hope and pray that my behaviour inner and outer will change as I interact with my family and friends. I feel my heart softening and opening and fear lessening-as my former husband and daughter return from a month long trip. I believe that some deep healing can occur with especially my former husband (my relationship with both my kids is really wonderful). I also have hope that our whole family can draw closer as I encourage that.

    For some reason I have a tremendous amount of influence in our unusual family of two former husbands and two kids (16 and 23). I want to, as Ghandi said, be the change I want to see happen. I don’t have to wait for them to make the changes. And when I am more loving and generous, and focused nurturing our family instead of prioritizing outside relationships and activities, I know I can make a difference. So this talk has helped me to have hope that if I just keep drawing closer to Jesus, our family can be even better in so many ways–because it already is an amazingly loving family in spite of all we have gone through.

    Reply

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