In a shipping container on our land in north Maine I found a handmade sign that reads “I love you more”. The letters had been crudely cut from plywood and then attached to a spare piece of lumber and then the whole thing varnished. The instant I read the words, I thought, “That’s God talking.” Holy people, tribal matriarchs and patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, the Son of God, enlightened human beings – they deliver a similar message – Faith. That message is misinterpreted, and people grope blindly trying to do as they think they’re told. The call to faith is without object, without attachment. In an effort to express and then take hold of belief, we grasp – at crosses, at Mecca, at a golden image, at seemingly “good” actions, at some story or hint of magic. This is the error. Holy people, truly holy people, they speak not to our need to adore and to believe in God, but rather about a God who adores and believes in us. We can use synagogue, or Mecca, or stories to better understand that, but we cannot use those dear things to somehow lay hold of God.
Omnipotence relieves God of any need for followers. The funny thing about being the literal Ruler of the Universe is that you don’t actually need slaves. Human beings, on the other hand, are weak, absurd, helpless. Humanity’s power-lack and subsequent fear and insecurity can be mediated by the true understanding of faith’s object and purpose. God doesn’t command, Love ME. God says, emphatically, unjustifiably, unequivocally, irrevocably, and sacrificially, “I LOVE. The object of my love is YOU.” God calls you by your true name, and, if you wish to hear, God will tell you the name of each hair on your head, each cell of your body, each atom belonging to God’s beloved, belonging to you. God is not asking us to affirm that God is the greatest treasure. God is asking us to confirm that we are God’s beloved, we are God’s chosen ones, we are perfectly made, perfectly loved.
Self-love is not the same as aggressive defensiveness or self-gratifying, pampering, luxurious emotional masturbation. True self love is demonstrated by the limitless power emanating from the person who knows, without question, what God really means. They know they are loved, and so, freed from all insecurity, that human being can enter onto the world stage and do exactly as their heart demands, every hour of every day.
I say, every day, “Fuck you God. I love my hate more, I love my money more, I love my self-pity more than I love you.” Every day God replies, “I love you more, more than the ocean, more than the kingdoms of the world, and as much as I love my intimate family.” Every day I leave God and chase money, chase comfort, chase lies. Yet God has been with me since the day I was conceived, and never for a single moment have I been alone since then.
I will never love God more than God loves me. I can choose to believe, though, that God loves me. I can choose to trust that much. And from that foundation there is no limit to what is possible to reach my identity, there is no necessary miracle out of my own reach. I live not because I’ve generated some payoff from God, but because I’m claiming what I’ve owned since the day I was made – my inheritance as God’s child.