Affection Caution

If I attract someone's affections to myself but fail to at the right time seek to use that bond to introduce them and encourage them to attach their affections on Jesus, then I am betraying them and cheating them of knowing the only source that can provide them with the very essence of what they need and crave deep in their heart. If they enjoy what they are receiving from me, it is only honest that I need to relay to them at an opportune time the truth about how I am able to share that love with them at all.

I cannot produce unconditional love in my own heart; I can only reflect it as I receive it and appreciate it coming from God. Yet unconditional love is the fuel which all of our hearts were designed to rely on for us to function properly. Anything else, any other kind of love or affection or pleasure or feeling is a substitute at best and does not contain the essential ingredients for life. Other feelings and fuels may keep me going for a time, may make me feel good and even energized for a period; but like a drug that gives a temporary rush of pleasure or energy but leaves one worse off than before, counterfeit heart fuels only tend to excite the nervous system without providing the essential nutrition needed for a healthy heart and soul and life.

Yet it is so easy in my selfishness to mistake the good feelings I receive from someone's affections that I may arouse as confirmation that I am providing them what their heart needs. Indeed, God often uses all sorts of imperfect relationships involving attractions and affections to lead us toward the purer more complete experience of life-giving love that originates from His own heart. But we must disabuse ourselves of the notion that the feelings of thrill we get from human affections constitute the fullness of life-giving love that God intends for us to share with others.

Selfishness is the spoiler in every relationship. Selfishness is a diabolical poison that is so familiar to all of us that we fail to realize its malignity. Even as a practicing Christian, whenever I engage in words and acts designed to elicit positive responses from others, if those bonds thus formed are not viewed as opportunities to introduce them deeper into a personal connection with the heart of God to experience the original thing, then I am both betraying my loyalty to God from which I received the capacity to love and I am failing to be honest with that person about the real source of the love they are experiencing from me.

I am starting to learn that true positive Christianity is the excited sharing of a passionate love that comes into our hearts as we connect with a God overflowing with life and joy. We in turn are to use that love and joy to draw close to others who are too afraid of God to trust Him directly due to the many lies they believe about Him in their heart. In channeling His love to them through a human contact we can allow them to begin to experience a little of what we enjoy. We earn their trust by our kindness to them, especially if they mistreat us in the process. As their defenses are dismantled by our gentleness, humility and kindness that we receive from Jesus, we can slowly begin to let them know that we are not really the source at all of the good things they are experiencing from us.

As their hearts slowly begin to warm to the life-giving experiences that we offer them in grace, it is only honest that we begin to introduce them to where we got all the good things so they can begin to get it directly themselves as they choose. We need not push them too fast for that may frighten them or reinforce their old fears and lies about God; but we also must be careful not to indulge in allowing their affections to grow too dependent on us without knowing that we really cannot produce this kind of love in our own hearts. We can only be channels of love from another Source that is so full of good things waiting for others to enjoy directly that they really should check it out for themselves.

It seems to me that we have to learn the art of balancing these feelings as we learn how to gauge how far to go before it is safe to introduce those we are drawing to the Source of life. Some are ready immediately to be introduced to Jesus and will latch onto Him tenaciously which is always wonderful. But many others are so damaged by false ideas about God – many of which are produced by religious abuses they may have experienced – that the idea that God is the source of these positive feelings would at first be reprehensible. We must always be tuned to the inner voice of the Spirit guiding us as to the best way to represent the truth about Jesus' love to them vicariously until their level of trust is induced in their heart to a point where they can begin to believe that God is not as bad as their heart was sure He was.

Inevitably, the process of treating others with kindness and love and compassion that we receive from Jesus is going to form attachments between their hearts and our own. This is not wrong if we remain honest about what is really happening and cognizant of the fact that we are never the real source of what we are giving them. If we remain inwardly honest that all of our true affections and our ability to show kindness to others originates from outside of ourselves, then when the time is right (which may often be sooner than later) we must begin to gently let the other person know where all these good things are coming from – and it is not us.

If I fall into the trap of relishing the affections produced in other hearts by my relationship with them and consuming those feelings for my own pleasure without confessing the real Source from which my love originates, then my relationship with that person will quickly turn into something very different than redemptive. I misrepresent the selfless nature of God by introducing selfishness into my relationship with others and confuse them even more about the motives of God. I reinforce the lies about God in their hearts by my exploitation of their affections instead of connecting them with the only Source of healing grace and love available to them, and I insert myself between their heart and the heart of God – not a good idea at all.

Is it wrong to enjoy the affections and bonds formed in attracting others in my direction as I allow God's love to flow through me? That enjoyment is not wrong as long as I keep totally honest about what is really going on and where the true source of origination lies. God intends for these bonds of affection to exist and deepen and strengthen – it is the adhesive that holds His body together tightly. But every part of the body of Christ must be eventually be intimately reliant upon Christ, the head of the body, as the direct source for their healing and life and joy, not on the ones who introduced them to Him.

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