|[AKA: bunny trail soapbox]|
Aw, so romantic. To have the man or woman of your dreams confess that they don't just like you, want you, or love you, they NEED you. You are their sunshine, their only sunshine!
Yeah, it sounds good... but did it ever nag at you?
That whole, "The only thing we need is God!" problem. Also, what about when I start failing to meet that need?
And take God, for example. He loves me, right? But if anyone ever did NOT need me, it would be God. He loves me. He wants me. He pursues me. But He doesn't need me. And in human circles, this idea of being wanted (not "needed") carries with it a feeling that since I'm not kept around due to the fact that I can meet a need... indeed, I can never fully meet anyone's needs... but because I'm liked for who I am, there's less chance of getting abandoned. I'm not going to epic fail and disappoint and crush the other person if I don't measure up. I kinda like it. It's not as romantic, or exciting, or fuzzy, but I kinda like it.
Sometimes it seems like Christianity makes a big deal of deromanticizing life... tearing down the dreams and crushing the flowers and biting the bullets "for the sake of the glory of God and a more Godly future"... but maybe all the things that we view as romantical have sin at the root anyway.
So... needs? We like feeling needed. We like it even though we know it's wrong. You can make an idol (care more about it than you do about loving God) out of being needed. You can make an idol out of serving - again, because it makes you feel needed. Or out of the fuzzy feeling you get when you know you've served "selflessly." Except it wasn't selfless because you were doing it for the feelings you get out of it.
But wait... isn't that what we were told to do? When you tell someone you're depressed and they tell you to go serve in the church, get your mind off of yourself by thinking about someone else's problems, invest in someone else's life and you will reap the rewards of joy... isn't that just asking for it?? Translation: act lovingly and you will learn to actually love. Choose to act lovingly for a while and you will learn to act out of love more naturally and easily. Choose to love as a means to learning how to love better, more selflessly. "Just do it; the feelings and desire to keep doing it will come later." Isn't that how habits are formed?
Indeed. But is that a good habit to form? Really? The reason we make idols out of serving is because... an idol is what it always was. We went into it thinking, "I'll cheer up" or "I'll meet new people" or "I'll satisfy this craving to feel like I'm doing something that's worth something to someone." It's all about ME and what I need. You're "serving," yes, but yourself, most of all.
Is this just me? Am I rambling to a crowd that figured this breakdown of logic ten years ago? This whole, "You are supposed to serve because God told you so, and you're depressed, so go help somebody for your own benefit" concept that has a total disconnect for me because serving out of love for God and serving for my own gain are incompatible... has no one else ever struggled with this? I mean, okay, sure, it might get you into the serving crowd and get you to where you can actually serve because you enjoy doing it... but do you enjoy doing it for the right reasons? Did you just dig yourself a self-serving hole? It's the same problem I have with having an accountability partner - if my reason for choosing not to sin is merely because I don't want to have to tell someone about it later, I might eventually beat the sin in question... but aren't I cultivating fear of man in the meantime?
And at the end of the day, I think back on all the serving that I did and it seems discolored. I might have gotten a lot out of it, and "I couldn't do it without God's strength," but did I really do it for Him?
This should probably have been more than one post, but I have one more thing that kinda ties in: I think I've always thought of the greatest commandment as two separate entities. You love God and you love your neighbor. And I get that you can't love your neighbor without first having a love for God, and I get that if you love God it is only logical that you would love your neighbor, because that's what He does. "Taking care of what He loves, because I love Him." And yeah, the strength to do anything, including and especially love other sinners, can only come from God. Got it. *check* But that logical part... it is what doesn't come naturally. The love for others that comes not as a separate effort apart from loving God but simply because I DO love God. Getting that concept to get from my head to my heart and out my fingers is a long time in coming, at least for me.
tl;dr (BIG time): Maybe it's too much to assume that we're all going to make a smooth transition from "I will choose to serve because it makes me feel good/I want to meet people/I need to feel needed" to "I actually like serving now. So now I will do it as a natural reaction to the fact that I love God!"