Understanding the Underlying Issues behind Your Need for Love
To understand your need for love and why you experience so much pain and shame in its absence, consider the world God created for mankind and the way He intended for us to experience life. In Genesis chapter 2, we are given a picture of God’s design for mankind. We were created as a clean, complete and whole race of beings and placed in a utopian garden. We were given a mission to tend to and govern over God’s created order. We were created in close, personal, intimate communion with our Creator. Mankind walked with God in the garden and experienced His goodness. This is the life you were designed to live. If you were placed back into this same setting and situation, all your needs would be perfectly met and you would thrive in every possible way.
Yet, the story of the human race took a dramatic turn for the worse in Genesis 3 when mankind disobeyed God and sinned. This choice would have long-lasting implications. God gave mankind his independence and withdrew His presence from the face of the Earth. For the first time, mankind felt exposed and shamed because of his sin, his lack and his inability to do anything about it. Although man was created to experience God’s presence (perfect love), we were left alone in our lack.
This fallen condition has been passed down throughout the generations of human lineage. This is the state in which you were born. And, this is the reason why you struggle with feeling loved. God designed you to experience one reality but you live in one altogether different. Instead of dwelling in the presence of perfect love, you have been cut off from it. Communion with God has been replaced with guilt, shame and lack.
This is why your efforts to replace God’s perfect love with that of a human being has been found wanting. To make matters worse, there’s nothing you can do to fix the problem. The problem was so significant that only God was capable of fixing it. Fortunately, God did something about it. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to come to Earth to solve our dilemma.
Jesus came to teach us about love and to demonstrate it. But He came to do a lot more than that. He also showed us what God is like. ‘Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.’ (John 14:6-11, New Living Translation)
Yet ultimately, He came to die for our sins so that we can be restored back into good relationship with God. Jesus took all our guilt, shame and lack upon Himself. He paid the full price for our sin so that we could have everything we lost restored back to us. Because of Jesus, we have the ability to experience God’s perfect love once again. All our shame and guilt is wiped away when we put our faith in Jesus.
Jesus said it this way, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21, New Living Translation)
Jesus called this process of having our relationship with God restored being born again. He put it this way, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:3-7, New Living Translation)
Jesus is saying that whenever Adam sinned, his spirit within him died. That living, breathing connection between God’s life-giving spirit and mankind’s spirit was broken. Man’s spirit died within him. All the generations of people that followed were born as spiritual stillborns. We were each born physically alive but spiritually dead. This is why Jesus said we must be born again, not of the body but of the spirit. Jesus came to enable us to experience this spiritual rebirth.
Given this state of being born spiritually dead and disconnected from the source of life, it should be no surprise that you struggle with feelings of being unloved, shamed and alone? It is as if when you try to love others, you are dipping into a love abyss to give to others what you yourself lack. Imagine a branch being severed from a tree. It is cut off from its source of life. The branch and its leaves would quickly die. This is a picture of your spiritual condition at birth. When you try to experience love in this condition, it’s no wonder that it gets all messed up and you find yourself lacking and deficient.
So, the beginning point for experiencing real love is putting our faith in Jesus and being spiritually born again through Him. Just as God is the only source of life, Jesus is God’s only provision for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus is God’s only means of being reconnected back into fellowship with God. When you are spiritually born again through Jesus, you are being restored back to the way God designed you to live. You are being reconnected to the source of life. This is much like that severed branch being grafted back onto its tree. What mankind lost in the garden due to rebellion and sin, Jesus Christ fully restores to us by faith in Him. In this state, we are spiritually alive and have communion with God just as Adam had in the garden.
This is the beginning point of spiritual healing and wholeness. Yet, this is just the beginning point of an eternal journey with Him. The shame and lack in you is substituted with the fullness of Jesus. Your lack is exchanged for Jesus’ provision, goodness and righteousness. You no longer need to try to hide your weakness, brokenness, shame and lack. You can begin to truly live life knowing that you don’t have to fix yourself or cover over your brokenness. It’s no longer about you fixing yourself or making yourself presentable and acceptable to others. You know that you are loved by God and accepted by Him. All your brokenness is exchanged for Jesus’ goodness and provision. This is the beginning point for experiencing God’s unconditional love.
Before we go any further into the exploration of how to experience God’s love, let’s explore the differences between what the world calls love and how God defines it. This step will help you differentiate true love from its many imitations.