Receiving Radical Love

There is a lie Adam and Eve bought into in the garden.

They were told they needed to do something to get something so they could be someone. They forgot that they already were someone, had already been given everything, and did not have to do anything to please their Father.

Once we have stepped out of the environment of Papa God’s love, our craving to get back into it drives us toward one of two things: (1) distorted desires and pleasures that blind us to God or (2) performance and works in an effort to please Him.

One way or another, we’re trying to get attention, soothe our pain, and fill up on whatever is missing in our hearts. We strive for the love we were created for because we forget how loved we already are.

The reality is that we do not actually need to do anything to get something and be somebody. God has already done everything and given everything because we already are somebodies in His eyes. The seeds of the enemy that were sown into human hearts long ago in Eden have blinded us to that truth.

The Broken Image

“Has God really said?” (Genesis 3:1 NASB). That is how the enemy sowed these seeds into the heart of mankind. When our first parents listened to that question, it became the seed that grew into dense forests of deception in our lives.

This is where our separation from God began—not separation from His love, but separation from being able to receive it and experience it the way He wanted us to.

Guilt, shame, broken identity, broken relationships, and all the other disappointments and diseases of a fallen life entered in. We lost the ability in our natural selves to receive and give divine love and express it to one another.

Adam and Eve listened to the wrong voice, and self rather than Papa God became the center of every human being’s life.

We still have many problems with that. We have inner voices of condemnation and shame that are not holy. They might sound humble, but they contradict what God has said about us in Jesus.

They are the voices of the accuser turning us inward, keeping us focused on ourselves. And those voices can be loud and relentless.

What happens when self is at the center of our lives? Love becomes transactional rather than relational. We do things in order to get it. We have to perform well for it—to behave ourselves, live up to a high standard, or whatever our instincts tell us we have to do in order to deserve it. And since we can never do enough to deserve the perfect love of the heavenly family—it is never about “deserving” anyway—we are always striving and never arriving.

I call this a “love vacuum”—an empty heart that is desperate to be filled with the Father’s love. Every human being since the fall starts out with one. We live from a love deficit.

In itself, this is a tragic situation. But it has even more tragic consequences because whenever love is absent, fear flourishes.

I think you are probably familiar with the fruits of fear. When we are afraid, we compensate by trying to fend for ourselves, control our lives, become self-protective, and create boundaries and distance between us and other people.

Deep inside of every independent, isolated, overassertive, manipulative person is a heart that is deeply ashamed, starving for affirmation, and very afraid.

Over time, these seeds of our Father hunger grow. They cause insecurity, low self-esteem, self-hatred, violence, paranoia, anger, suicidal thoughts, promiscuity, rebellion, confusion, restlessness, depression, addictions, compulsive behavior, mental problems, and so much more. People spend years in counseling for these kinds of things, never realizing the root behind them.

We need the love of the Father.

If we are unaware of His love—or even if we are aware but not fully convinced of it—we live like orphans.

The Orphan Heart

I once spoke to a group of psychiatrists. Some of them were professors at top universities. I explained this root of our insecurities. I told them that everyone, no matter what their exterior looks like, knows the feeling of failure. No matter how hard they try, no one ever feels like they measure up.

Several of these psychiatrists began to weep. Many of them recognized these symptoms in their hardest, most hopeless cases. Some of them recognized them in themselves. Our Father hunger is universal. We were all created to know the love of the perfect family.

Our human instincts and ingrained assumptions go to war against our desire to fully accept the Father’s love. That is not the way we were designed; these instincts and assumptions were not given by God and came only after the fall. But basically we have been conditioned to assume that when we’ve fallen short— sinned, failed, not measured up—God withholds a little bit of love from us, and only when we are doing everything well in our relationships, personal habits, and attitudes can we be fully at rest in His love.

The problem with that idea should be obvious. It means we are never quite measuring up. So we can never be at rest.

But if Papa God’s love is that highest form of agape, then it is not dependent on our behavior or attitudes at all. He might care about those things, but He will never measure His love by them.

His love is completely independent, based entirely on His character and nature, and therefore unchanging, constant, full, deep, and permanent.

But we still have a lot of trouble accepting that.

Maybe you are thinking that your inability to measure up means that Papa God is not completely delighted in you all the time—that even though He loves you, maybe you’re a problem child, and He only loves you because He has to. It’s His job description, kind of like a parent or grandparent has to accept you as part of the family even if they are upset with you. When we see God through the assumption that His love is an obligation, we can never really understand the pleasure He gets from loving us.

We need supernatural help to comprehend this. We need revelations and encounters and mountaintop moments when the Holy Spirit deposits this new paradigm deep into our hearts. It really is radical, even though it has been there from the very beginning. And it takes some radical heart surgery for us to accept it.

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