Love your neighbour as you love yourself…
We were considering what we had learned individually during lockdown and the various journeys it has brought, when the Holy Spirit prompted the question “How much do we love ourselves? Because if we don’t love ourselves much, we can’t love our neighbour much either.”
When we asked Him what He meant, I felt He gave an answer. I’ll put it into the First Person, although it wasn’t received as a direct prophesy, more an unfolding revelation of how, and why, we can – and indeed should – love ourselves. God would say something like this (some of it is in psalm 139):
“You can love yourself because I created you in my image, and you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I knew you before you were formed in the womb, and what I saw was beautiful. Although sin and the powers of darkness have damaged you in the flesh, I have lifted you out of the miry clay and you are seated in glory with my Son in the Spirit. Through Him I see the perfection I put into you. I want you to see, and love, what I see: holiness, light, truth, and life. I am not asking you to love what is dead in you, which is your body if sin and death; but what is alive in you: the uniqueness and beauty which I created and which my Son has redeemed. This you can love, and when you do you can reach out to your neighbours with the love for all that I have created and purposed for them as well.”
If we will let the wind of the Spirit blow the ashes off our coals (see “Where is your fire?”), we can see, and love, what God has put into us and what He has created us for, and burst into flame again. Marion reminded us that repentance precedes revival. Let’s repent of letting dead ashes cover our glowing hearts, in the words of the David Ruiz song from the 1994 Toronto revival: “Come, sweet wind, come and blow over me!”
In various ways and through different journeys, we have all felt that God has been drawing us closer to Him so that His character can be more formed in us, and so that we can hear His word more clearly, whenever He wants to speak to us – not just in the parts of the day that we have set aside for Him. Our hearts need to be the good ground where His seed can take root and multiply, as we heard through the preaching recently. But for that to happen, we have to allow the gardener to pull up the weeds that grow all to easily.
A key question is this: what is GOD’s call on our time? If the devil can’t tempt us with worldly distractions, he will try and weigh us down with seemingly good, spiritual ones so that we end up burdened with a lot of fruitless running around and “hard” praying that is not Spirit led and just causes weds to grow in the good soil. We are exhorted not just to pray at all times, but to pray “in the Spirit” at all times. (Eph 6:18) Muyiwa put it so succinctly: if we aren’t praying in the Spirit we are just “worrying on our knees.”
In this context we talked a little about Elisha and the Shunammite woman: we need to “shut the door” on what is troubling us and seek Jesus; not try and break through the cloud of troubles and fears by praying harder than them! (See John 14:1) Sometimes a fear we need to leave behind is actually the fear of our prayers not being answered. When the presence of the Lord is real, this fear evaporates. But every situation has a different prayer, and this only comes from the presence of God and not from a formula we have learned or a habit we have formed. So to pray in the Spirit at all times, we need to be filled with the Spirit at all times, and walking with Him at all times, not just in our quiet times.