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roses2In the name of all strange and mysterious juxtapositions, two emails collided in the murky swamp of my brain last night and I thought I’d give it a whirl today. Ha! Another name for giving your brain a whirl is a …….concussion.  Try to avoid those.

First article, Sociopathic Parents Are Everywhere. Good article! For the record this is an area I am well versed in. My mama, bless her heart, is not quite a sociopath, she’s a narcissist. I got trapped again in her hall of mirrors the other day and it went very well, it was pleasant even, but it refreshed my mind as to the nature of those who are unable to see the world beyond their own projection of their own holographic selves.

The second email was from an outraged atheist informing me that I worship a “sociopathic Sky Daddy who murdered His own Son.” As proof, He quoted Isaiah 53:10 which says, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

roses3With all good grace and a bent, dark sense of humor here, that would actually allege God to be a sadist, not a sociopath. A sociopath doesn’t have a conscience. They are simply devoid of guilt, empathy. A sadist actually enjoys inflicting pain and suffering.

Now that we’ve fine tuned the psychology of dysfunction, let me say it grieves me deeply that anyone would believe that falsehood, but I empathize with the  misunderstanding, the emotion, the stronghold that can lead one to become trapped in such a place.

One of the hardest things to do in faith is to convey the idea that “God is love” per 1 John 4:7-8 to people who are not quite certain what “love” actually is. This is so critical to do however, because flat-out the bible tells us,  “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

You can’t know God until you know what love is. I “love” shoes, lattes, good books, sunshine, but these are all things and ideas. Superficial loves. Love, relationship, is about people, not things. Some of us can even love the “idea of God” without even knowing what a healthy relationship with an actual person should look and feel like.

Defining “love” is hard. Is love the father who abandoned you as a child? Narcissistic mother with control issues? Girlfriend who rejected you? Is it abuse, fear and control, exploitation? Some street prophet screaming hatred at passer-bys?

The world just offers us this whole rotten smorgasbord of Love Gone Wrong songs.

roses4You can’t receive the Lord without some grasp of the concept of love, even if it’s just an instinctual leap of faith. You certainly can’t understand scripture without love. Without love, your mindset and interpretation will be all wrong. God is love. Anytime we doubt that, the error is always going to be on our end. It’s kind of like the golden rule of all scriptural understanding, or life understanding for that matter. God is love.

Anything that does not align with “God is love” is a misunderstanding, a deception, a flat out lie.

Whenever I read or hear the words,  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him, I often think of rose petals. We bruise rose petals to release their fragrance. They are pressed, crushed, squeezed, to get the good stuff out, the essence. There’s a purpose to it that goes way beyond a desire to just torment some roses. It takes buckets of petals to make rose water and even more to press out the oil.

roses5If you’ve ever had a sick child, a kid who is suffering, and pleaded to be able to take their place, you will understand the heart behind Isaiah 53:10. I watched a mom lose a daughter once and the desperate plea, let me take this cup from her. I will gladly lose my own hair, it will please me to go through radiation on her behalf. I am stronger than she is, I have lived a good life already. Let me pour out my wrath upon this cancer. Let me trade places with her….

That is the heart behind Isaiah 53:10, that is the same kind of fierce and sacrificial parental love all woven throughout,  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him…..

Isaiah 53:11 goes on to say, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

He came that we should have life, and life abundant. He took our place, like a good parent often wishes they could take their child’s place when they are in danger, when they are sick, when they are suffering. In the larger context, the bigger picture, it pleased Him to do so because  He was giving us life, not just “us,” but His sacrifice would “justify many.”

roses6The Father and the Son are not like separate beings, or different people, they are the very nature of relational and sacrificial love. That is a relationship we are invited to enter into, to join. It is a journey, an adventure, a race perhaps, one we get to train for, one where we have an opportunity to discover the Father’s heart for us and the very meaning of relational, sacrificial, love.

I mentioned that love can sometimes be like an instinctual leap of faith. Something inside of us just knows that a sociopathic father who would murder his own son, is not the kind of “love” we would want anything to do with. I wish my atheist friends would take it a bit deeper, would ask themselves why, where that standard and expectation comes from? What is it inside of you that enables you to discern how awful that is and to recoil in horror? To even go so far as to falsely accuse God and reason your way to rejecting Him? How do you even know what love is supposed to look like?

Whose standard are you borrowing from?

I’ve known a few sociopaths, some narcissists, and a smattering of others simply incapable of any empathy at all. I don’t know what’s broken there, I don’t fully understand it all, but don’t ever take that ability to discern “what is love” for granted. There are people in the world who will literally stare at you blankly having no idea what so ever why it might be wrong for a father to murder his son. Some of them can be very smooth about it too, socially acceptable, no one would ever know. It’s kind of scary.

roses7There are some people who have had parents just like that. And still other parents who come very close to that, parents who cannot even perceive their own children as actual separate people beyond themselves, as more than simply, “beneficial to me” or “not beneficial to me” or “convenient” or “not convenient.”

That is so NOT our heavenly Father. That is NOT what is happening in the story of the crucifixion. To put it in atheist speak, the truth is more like, My Sky Daddy whom I worship, laid down His life for me with all the fierce, protective, sacrificial love of a grieving parent determined to save His child…..

That’s the Father’s love for us. That’s Who we honor with our worship.