Sunday, September 19, 2021

To Be Loved

What does it mean to be loved? How can love be found? It’s the subject of movies, books, philosophers and romantics. The pursuit of love has steered history. Why does the human heart crave this even if the essence of love is elusive? I’m reminded of the musical “Oliver” as the main character sings “Where is Love?” A young orphan, his heart yearns to find someone who will love him. Like most musicals this ends happily, but the reality for many is that love remains beyond their grasp. 

There are loveless marriages, loveless families, loveless lives. We all have a need to be known and accepted for who we are and not simply for what we do. When dating, we put forth our best image, not just because we desire the admiration of another, but because inwardly we desire to be a that type of person. I’ve often heard the words “He/She brings out the best in me” as a person strives to be better for the sake of the person they love. 

What is love?

Love is a powerful feeling, but it is more than just a emotion. Some of love’s elusive nature for native English speakers may be the fact that the word can mean many things. In Hebrew, there are three words that we can translate as “love”. In Greek there are seven words, each with a distinctly different meaning, and the highest form of love is Agape, unconditional love. 

We are each designed with the need to be loved unconditionally. Our fear is that if someone knows about our dark side, we will be rejected. To be known, warts and all, and still be loved. This type of love is truly divine and reflects the nature of God. God looks at each of us and loves us more than we deserve. He sees our lies, our melt-downs, and our self-serving actions, yet He still chooses to love us. 

In our fear of rejection, we can often reject others before they have chance to reject us. We can rationalize the lies that Satan whispers in our ear. “You’re not good enough” can become “Who can live up to a perfect standard?”, and that can continue to morph into bitterness against God or others. Rather than being “dumped”, a self-destructive pattern is to sever the relationship first. That’s what so many do with God. Yet God loves us unconditionally, and until we can experience that Agape of God, we can’t fathom anyone loving us like that.

Betrayal and Rejection

Our experiences in life may be filled with betrayal and rejection. From an early age, “love” may have only been experienced as a result of our performance, a conditional love. Attention may have only been received if we were attractive, and so we pour our efforts into being “beautiful”, believing that will make us more “lovable”. Or our strivings could be through athletics, academics, the arts, or status. It’s all a born of desperation to be loved even if it’s all conditional.

And when our efforts fail? Sometimes our love runs dry when we have loved well, but a person who should have returned that love rejects us, betrays us. Why should we love well when others do not? That question can become a death spiral, where we have learned the wrong thing from our experience and decide that love is an illusion or a foolish game. Yet still our hearts long for love.

The Answer

No document, podcast or movie can fully answer all these questions, but let me offer some thoughts that have shaped my life. They aren’t original but they are cohesive when contemplated together. First, we experience pain and rejection because wounded people wound people. Second, God loves us unconditionally, knowing both what we’ve done and what we will do. Third, we can only love like God if we experience His unconditional love. Fourth, love is a decision to give, and in giving we somehow receive. Fifth, if we “love” to receive, that is loving conditionally, which is not really love at all. 

Focusing on the third point above, we can only love because God first loves us. (see 1 John 4:19) If we want to be loved, we need to start with the One Who loves us perfectly and Who will fill up our love tank so that we can love like Him. Then and only then can we be ambassadors of His love, and He promises that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts. (See Psalms 37:4) I believe that it was basking in God’s love that Francis of Assisi could pen his prayer. (See http://mitchellmalloy.blogspot.com/2010/04/800-years-later.html) And basking in His love, our own prayers come alive.

copyright ©2021 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/) 


Saturday, September 11, 2021

America remembered on 911

20 years ago today America was attacked. This is not a day of celebration, unless we celebrate the first responders who stepped up to their sworn responsibility. This is not a day to forget either. “Those who fail to remember history are destined to repeat it.” 

For me, it’s a day of reflection, remembering where I was as the first plane hit the tower, the call from my wife, the amazing stories of lives that were somehow spared because they didn’t follow their normal routine. And in the days that followed, listening to a liberal pundit turned conservative as he realized that many of his liberal colleagues truly hated America. 

We have made mistakes, but I believe the vast majority of Americans have desired good things for our neighbors and tried to do what is right, both domestically and abroad. But I also see the moral decline, increase in selfishness and waning of love. Brother fights against brother and violence increases… and it will continue to increase unless we come back to our First Love.

It is our love of God that makes us loving. (see 1John 41:19) When we spend time with Him, in His Presence, we are transformed, becoming more like Him. This is our only hope; He is our only hope!

I love America, the ideals that made this a giant among nations for a season. The ideals weren’t original. They came from Scripture, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. These same ideals can come alive in each of us today if we would just return to a love for God and the collections of history, prophecy and proverbs that He has given us in His Holy Word.

America is no longer a superpower. Others will try to fill that void, but we live in biblical times. Israel is once again a nation and will grow in riches and power as the Bible predicted. America will heal as the unproductive shoots are pruned, and pruning doesn’t feel good at the time. Still, God is in control, and all of this is proof of His Word and His love for us. 

So at the risk of sounding like a street preacher: repent… turn back to God… because the time is truly near. No man knows the day or the hour, but it is surely nearer today than ever before. It’s your move. It’s my move. May we move wisely.

copyright ©2021 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The God that Looks like Me

I have been confronted many times with the statement: “everybody needs a god that looks like them”. There’s something appealing about this assertion, like candy for the soul. I like candy, but pleasant sweets are not always a healthy thing. So I have wondered about this statement. Is it an eye-opening realization of what people need or a subtle lure toward what people want?

If I draw further on the nutrition analogy, treats like chocolate and honey have benefits in moderation. Likewise, people need a relatable God to have a relationship with God, and it’s true that we were made in the likeness of God. Male and female, we were created in God’s image. And when I look at the splendorous differences of all races, I can understand that God had a purpose in creating racial variety. The diverse nature of mankind is a reflection of the infinitely multifaceted nature of God. I can appreciate the differences in race and gender, and like a Frenchman proclaim: “Viva la difference!” I appreciate the distinction between men and women, seeing both as equal, different and valued.

But then I’m startled by the image of a woman on the cross, or a black madonna, or an asian Jesus. It shocks my understanding, until I then look upon the anglo-saxon portrait of Christ that I grew up with. Is it true then that everybody needs a god that looks like them? Is our picture of God like gazing into a mirror? Were we were made in God’s image or was He made in ours?

To be sure, God understood our need to be able to relate to Him. Jesus was undeniably male and Jewish, and that is how God chose to represent the Christ. Y’shua (a.k.a. – Joshua, Who we call Jesus) represented the Kingdom of God to this world as both the Son of God and the Son of Man, relatable to us in every way except that He never succumbed to temptation. He suffered as all mankind suffers, and like us, He had friends and family whom He loved. He often referred to His Father in heaven and told His disciples that they knew what God the Father was like if they knew Him.

Some people have difficulty viewing God as a Father. Perhaps it’s because their earthly father wasn’t present or failed to show the love and leadership that should go with the role. Or maybe the reason some struggle with Father God is that they personally feel unvalued as they were created. But God the Father made no mistakes in how He created each of us, loving each of us with such intensity and duration that we can only imagine and still never fully comprehend. In everything, He has a purpose: our height, our hair color, our gender, and our skin color.

I don’t look like a middle eastern Jew, which is the form He chose to send His Son, Y’shua. Does that mean I am inferior and loved less? Of course not! Regardless of gender and race, we are loved by God the Father with the same eternal intensity as He loves Jesus. As His adopted children, we know the fullness of His love and approval.

Yet I know of people who feel they can’t relate to God as masculine. They find comfort in Scripture verses where God describes Himself with traits that are feminine. They see where the wisdom of God is described as a woman or where Jesus compares to his feelings to that of a mother hen yearning to gather her chicks. These feminine descriptions complement God’s masculine nature. God looked at Adam and declared that it was not good for him to be alone, so the Father created a partner for him. Eve was not valued less than Adam. No, she was of equal worth, valued equally as having completed the creation of mankind. Male and female, God created them in His image. The use of allegory, metaphor and simile in Scripture demonstrate the value of every person, male and female, as an image bearer, a reflection of God’s image.

But that is not enough for some. Some misguided believers have embraced the “divine feminine”, a concept which asserts a feminine counterpart to the patriarchal and masculine worship structures in Christianity. In other words: the goddess nature of God. It’s true that we see the fullness of God’s love through feminine similes and metaphors in Scripture, but that does not equivocate God and goddess. Let me emphasize, this doesn’t devalue women in the least bit. Just as God’s chose to reveal Himself as a Jewish man didn’t devalue other races, there is no lesser value placed on women than men. There is no race superior to another and no gender greater than the other. Y’shua showed the greatest respect for all people, male and female; however, He always referred to God as Father and never once taught about the goddess nature. Some might argue that Jesus avoided the topic since it would have been viewed as too extreme for the culture, but that didn’t stop Jesus from saying other things that would have Him killed. No, Y’shua was pretty bold in His teachings, including His own deity.
Let me be clear: the "divine feminine" is a lie from hell and an insertion of pagan theology into Christianity.
But “everybody needs a god that looks like them”, right? Just as too much candy is unhealthy, so does this thought process damage the church when taken too far. The reality is that we were made in His image; He was not created in ours. We were made to reflect His glory, but in our brokenness and pride we strive to project our likeness onto the god (or goddess) of our choosing. Mankind’s greatest sinful tendency is to remake themselves as gods, and a god who looks like us becomes an idol when taken to the extreme.

If your pastor is teaching, supporting or refusing to rebuke the heresy of the divine feminine, you should lovingly confront that person. They may refer to the allegory of Wisdom as the goddess nature of God, and it’s likely they were even taught such things in seminary. It’s true that the Bible describes God’s nature using feminine analogy, but no doctrine can be derived from such figurative language. Ask your pastor for Biblical evidence, and when they can’t produce anything more than allegory, metaphor and simile, ask Jesus how you should respond. If teachers allow false doctrine, can that church remain healthy?


God created us in a variety of shades and sizes. He created mankind as both male and female and together we reflect His image, and while as a species we often fail to reflect His goodness, He is always good. Despite our often toxic behavior, when God created mankind, He called us good. He made us to be good, so there is no toxic masculinity and femininity is part the goodness He created to reflect His majesty. One is not greater in value than the other, and when we resent the differences in God’s creation, we are inwardly rebelling against Him as the Creator. We were made for love, to love and to be loved, to know and to be known, forever growing in our understanding and appreciation for each other. Viva la difference!

copyright ©2021 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)