Sin can cheat us of the power that was infused within us. Thus deluded, we exchange the reality of tranquility, peace, happiness and joy, for the illusion of excitement, insecurity, distractions and pleasure. It can seem like a lot of fun, but glorifying ourselves now, we exchange our tomorrow for today.
Why do we trip over ourselves thus? How are we able to ignore the potential that was poured out into us? In this article, I will use two examples to display one way in which we are deluded. Both examples display our proclivity to misuse words. The grace that is ours in Christ will move effectively if we escape these delusions and stop tripping over ourselves.
Like vs. Love
The first example is in the way we use “like” and “love”. We say we like something when it brings us pleasure. We may also say, “I like ice cream, but I love chocolate.” Love is used here as a measure of like, meaning to say it brings so much more pleasure.
In other words, love is used to express a volumetric increase of like.
The real meaning of love though is the opposite of like. Just as we like things that benefit us or brings us pleasure, to love someone or something means to do things that benefit that other person or thing, even at a cost to our own selves.
We may not like doing the thing that is needed for us to love someone. In fact, we may not even like the person we are called to love; so it is written that we love our enemies.
In our fallen, imperfect state, mankind is driven by “like”. Our sense of what is right and wrong is connected to our liking or disliking what is occurring to us. In this way, we unknowingly imitate the devil, becoming masters or gods of our own petty universes.
It becomes paramount then, to behave, speak, and act in ways that are pleasing because if someone does not like us, then we are doomed. We build power structures in our minds, and are willing to incur the dislike of someone we place low on our self-made hierarchies. Often, however, we are unwilling to do anything that may cause the superior ones in our hierarchies to dislike us.
Two people may act, behave and speak in the very same way with us, yet based on our estimation of how much we want to be liked by them we respond differently. One we will excuse, and the other will incur our wrath.
In simple terms, we tend to embrace hypocrisy with gusto. Relationships are balanced on the fulcrum of “like”. Increased like produces the “love”, and decreased like causes separation. Possibly, we never did love anything else but our own image and our own pleasure. Anything that benefits these two things we do unhesitatingly without counting the cost.
Love needs us to do the very opposite of like. Love needs us to mortify and put to death our likes! As long as we use the word love to mean that we like something very much, we are in a state of salvation paralysis.
Needs vs. Wants
In this same way, two other words being misused are “need” and “want”. We hear it spoken often, “I need a drink, or I need a smoke,” whereas the fact is that we actually want alcohol or nicotine.
The difference between needs and wants is that the former is objective and is needed by the entire species; the latter is subjective and changes according to one’s pleasure.
We are designed to want our needs, but sin causes us to need our wants.
We all need to be hard-working, disciplined, self-controlled, restrained, polite, sacrificing today for tomorrow, sacrificing ourselves for another, continually learning, always growing, being mature, understanding, and wise. But sin causes us to want things without effort, to want our pleasure even at the cost of another, to want our ways at all times.
We were designed to want our needs before sin deluded us. Where sin afflicts us, our wants become needs and these, then, progress to addiction.
Respect and Worship
We must want what we need. When you want what is needed so much that it characterises you, it is worship. In this way, work is worship.
We need to possess respect. We must want our needs to be respectful – not because another person deserves to be respected but because we want to be so. When we can be respectful in this way, then humility and reverence begin to characterise us, and when we are thus characterized, we begin to worship God in all that we do; we do it now for no other reason than for the glory of God. Wanting the glory of God in all things is a real need humankind possesses. Yet, few want this.
When you want either (a) what you do not need or (b) more than you really need, so much that it overwhelms you, it is addiction. In this way, even legitimate needs such as rest and entertainment can affect us when we continually seek distraction, ease, and comforts. Can you imagine St. John the Evangelist, or any saint for that matter, claiming to have retired from life and snoozing in front of the TV while growing a beer belly? Too many of us have built the big barns and now feel we can put up our legs and live without worry.
The Faith Journey
In order to let go of what we like, we need faith. No man could have liked being spat upon, crowned with thorns, whipped mercilessly, and crucified as Jesus was. Yet, only man is able to love God and our neighbor enough to accept the injustice. Only a sinless man was able to fulfil this need.
From birth to death our lives are a journey to Calvary. Our Cross and Golgotha is in the trifles of everyday life. Do not trip over these. This is the third day, the day we are born again in Christ Jesus. We await the fourth day – the day we all truly need and must love – the day of our glorification.
Do not let illusion imprison your reality. Do not let what you like rob you of love. Learn instead to like loving.