vicky sedgwick (19/04/2011 23:39)
hi, I'm not sure if I'm posting in the right section here, it's something I'm struggling with at the moment so a prayer request but I also wonder if this is a common occurance for those suffering mental distress.
My problem is that I focus on Bible verses on the expectations of God, I see the verses on God's love and they offer me hope but then I find verses like 'Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect' and 'counting the cost' and taking up your cross and being worthy of Jesus and loving Him more than fathers and mothers and You must love Your God with all your heart soul and strength.
I have heard of God's unconditional love but I read these verses and my heart fears that I'm not good enough. I know that Jesus died for me, took my punishment but these verses seem to suggest He needs and expects things from me
so I'm confused
Kate Middleton (Guest) (27/04/2011 13:20)
Hi Vicky, thanks for posting. This is a really common struggle for people in church - if you are already feeling down on yourself, the bible can provide plenty of ammunition you can beat yourself up with! You know the passage from JOhn 8, 'then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free'? Sounds like you know your bible pretty well, and lots of people I've spoken to struggle with why it hasn't helped them be free of their distress. I love the way the message puts it - 'then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.' I guess it's about praying for that real experience of God's love, and of the verses you know so well. Once you have that, the more challenging ones will be much easier to get your head around. Another good verse is Paul's advice in Phil 4:8 ('whatever is true, whatever is noble ... think about such things'). Its so easy to get bogged down by the scary negative sounding verses in the bible. Instead try spending some time praying for an experience of God's love, and meditating on all the positive stuff the bible teaches you about what God thinks of you. Its only in the context of all those verses that we can understand the more tricky ones - some of which you mention.
Yali Shi (02/05/2011 00:38)
A long time ago a friendly pastor gave me the advice that we have to balance scripture with scripture when reading the Bible, that we have to consider the "whole counsel of God", and I find that very helpful. Otherwise we can sometimes get stuck on one scripture and get things out of balance. To balance out some of the challenging scriptures the original posters quotes I would like to remind her that God "knoweth our frame", "He remembereth that we are dust", and that we have an High Priest who is touched with our infirmities. In other words Jesus knows, understands and has experienced human weakness and frailties. He takes us where we are and does not expect things from us that are beyond our capacity, but commends our effort, just like he commended the poor widow, who gave two small coins. Jesus' own disciples displayed many of the human weaknesses we ourselves struggle with, at times they argued, they were self-centered, they gave in to pride, they were carnally minded, and so on. The faith life is a journey with many twists and turns and nobody can say they have arrived.
vicky sedgwick (02/05/2011 09:19)
thank you both for your replies I really appreciate it and I will definitley be taking your advice to pray for a deeper experience of God's love before getting into the more challenging verses. It's encouraging just to know I'm not alone in these struggles :)
Veronica Zundel (15/06/2011 19:17)
Matthew's version is 'Be perfect' but Luke's version is 'Be compassionate as your Heavenly Father is compassionate', which I like better. Even in the Matthew version, 'perfect' is not a great translation: it does not mean the Greek idea of perfection which was to be without any flaws, rather it is closer to the Hebrew idea of wholeness, ie 'Be wholehearted as your Heavenly Father is wholehearted', or 'Be all out for God as God is all out for you.' This puts it into the context of God's unrestrained love for us, so that it is calling for us to have unrestrained love for God and neighbour in return. But we cannot do this until we have received the love we need from God. 'Be compassionate' includes being compassionate to yourself ('love your neighbour as yourself').
Jemma Brown (17/10/2011 23:02)
I think it took me over a year since becoming a Christian (born again 3 years ago) to accept that God loves and cares for me TOTALLY UNCONDITIONALLY.
I know from my own experience I was repeatedly told that I was saved, forgiven and loved by god and I just could not accept it. I have issues with self loathing as part of my mental health condition and its symptoms so I think the thought that I could be unconditionally loved was just too much when I was feeling so awful about myself.
I think the important thing to remember is that God does love us and we are born and created in his image - Nothing we can do will stop him loving us.
Emma (05/07/2012 00:15)
One thing I found, when I was struggling with some of the grandeur of God, with the idea of living to his standard, was that first, Jesus was fully human, as well as divine, and he knows how frail we are as humans, how easily tempted, how we can fail to be perfect even when we are trying our utmost. He says his strength is made perfect in our weakness, and that we grow in him, not arrive at a perfect position immediately.
The other is a quote from an Adrian Plass book - "God is nice and he likes you!" I find it easier to grasp that God likes me rather than God loves me, because I have seen the phrase "God loves you" mis-used by people in the past. You know, "God loves you but he is punishing you with this illness" that sort of thing. (I don't believe God is punishing me with illness!)
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