Last week I shared the scripture from Ephesians 3:14-17 that says we should all be rooted and grounded in unconditional love, and if we are, we will be able to understand the love of Christ which is beyond head knowledge.
Jesus said in Mark 4:17 those who are not rooted and grounded cannot stand against the pressure of circumstances and people's opinions, but 'stumble' when these pressures come. In the parable itself Jesus described the hearts of these people as consisting of small stones, in the Greek 'petrodes' which paints a picture of a thin layer of soil over the top of lots of little stones.
They grow up letting others see the thin layer of soil while being fearful in themselves, and fearful others may find out there little stones under the surface that they don't know how to get rid of. Each small stone therefore is an emotional issue or thought stronghold that formed when the person experienced events that destroyed unconditional love in their heart, preventing the 'plant' of the Word from taking root.
I shared how Jesus said in John 8:44 that Satan stands alone, and when he speaks a lie he does so by himself - he has no one to agree with him, he is on the outside in the spiritual realm looking in. He speaks things to people to see if any will agree with him, and if they do it opens the door to him having access into their lives. When a person believes a lie, coming into agreement with that lie, to them the lie has become truth. This starts a person down the path toward unhealthy emotional and mental health.
Stumbling in life
Rooting in unconditional love destroys any possibility of a little stone forming in a child's heart when it first tries to be formed. For example, a boy throws a rock and breaks the neighbor's window, feeling horrible and the thought comes to him from Satan that he is a bad person.
The parent responds to the lie with unconditional love, affirming the child is not bad, that he is and always will be loved, but he did do something wrong and must face the consequences. Any chance at agreement with Satan's lie was destroyed by unconditional love, so any little 'stone' in the boy's heart never has a chance to form because he was affirmed in unconditional love at every opportunity for correction.
The Greek word in Mark 4:17 translated 'they stumble' or 'they take offense', is "skandalizo" which means "to put a snare or stumbling block in the way." This is NOT the Greek word for 'snare' (pagis), but the act of putting that snare directly in the path of someone so they may be trapped or tripped.
Jesus said 'When affliction (pressure of circumstances) or persecution (opinions of others) arises for the Word's sake, they are offended (have a stumbling block placed in their path)." Mark 4:17
Clearly, the stumbling block put directly in their path by Satan is to make that person aware or remind them of their lack of rooting in unconditional love, which causes them to fail, or seem unable to grow in the Lord and as a human being in certain areas. They put up a facade of being solid - letting people see that thin layer of soil - but they hide the many little stones in their heart that prevent emotional roots from growing deep.
Let us see how this works
Let me go back to the boy I've been using as an example in this series. When the pressure of his parent's divorce happened Satan was able to speak a lie to him that it was his fault, and once the boy agreed with that lie it became truth to him. When he believed it was his fault that 'truth' to him was so hurtful, so destructive that he was the reason his mom and dad divorced, that he built a fantasy world of delusion and altered reality to shield himself from being the fault of any more failures in life.
The resulting emotional damage meant that an 'F' on a school paper was the teacher's fault. "It was just a misunderstanding" would be the story, because the truth would mean he was at fault which would reinforce the pain of the divorce all over again, so he had to tell lies to keep from experiencing emotional pain.
By the time he was an adult the ramifications of telling a lie carried harsher consequences. When he stole nearly $4000 from a restaurant he worked at, "It was just a misunderstanding" failed and he served time in prison as a result - still swearing he was framed, it was someone else's fault. That lie can be traced directly back to believing the lie of believing he was at fault for his parent's divorce.
To admit the truth of being at fault for anything would bring the horror (unconsciously) of the root 'truth' that he was to blame for his parent's divorce all over again, and it was just too painful. It was less painful to experience 4 years in prison swearing he was framed than to admit the truth - such is the pain when not rooted and grounded in unconditional love.
Let us use the example of a young girl sexually molested. That violence against her destroyed any rooting in unconditional love she had. She marries because that is the normal thing to do, but she finds the love of a man unfulfilling because she never resolved the hurt and shame felt when she was abused.
She marries a rather insensitive and at times callous man, and while she loves him on one level, men have always hurt her while no woman ever has. She begins to believe a lie that she needs to explore the love of another woman to fulfill her which leads to divorce and a path of greater confusion and dysfunction.
This same girl might believe another lie, that because she was sexually abused by men, that was her gift, her one talent in life; sex. She might therefore have sexual relations with many other boys and then men as she grows up, looking for that one relationship that will fulfill her deep desire to be loved unconditionally, mistakenly thinking having sex with every guy will one day allow her to discover 'the one'.
A boy or girl might grow up in a home where the man hit the mom. This is not unconditional love by any means, but the child grows up thinking hitting and slapping your spouse is the expression of love. Therefore when they enter into relationships they subconsciously provoke that person to anger, trying to get them to explode in anger and hit them, because down inside that's all they know about how 'love' is expressed.
A child grows up in a household that is too busy. The parents have their careers, the kids are shuffled off to every sport and every school event offered, every church function, and 'family time' around the dinner table in the evenings is something seen only in old movies and old TV shows.
A child grows up without unconditional love, though the parents may feel that love towards their children, but the child is actually trained that love is expressed to the degree they are successful in whatever sport, school, or church event they participate.
The child lives a performance based love, feeling pressure to perform like a trained seal at every music recital, ball game, or church function. This child may grow up shallow and thinking love is performance based - and their marriage(s) become all about what the spouse can do for them.
Or that child may realize they weren't really loved unconditionally in spite of what mom and dad said, because the child was wise enough to know mom and dad's work was really what they loved first and foremost. How many preachers, managers, executives, have interrupted dinner for a work phone call, training the children that work/congregation/others are more important than they and their family are?
All these examples
All these and many more scenarios, countless other scenarios, demonstrate the emotional and mental damage done when a person is not rooted and grounded in unconditional love. We as human beings are created to walk with God, to know things spiritually which are beyond head knowledge. But when a person is not rooted and grounded in that unconditional love, Satan stands at the ready to put a stumbling block directly in their path - a simple little lie that lets in still larger lies that lets in still larger ones.
Next week; How to un-believe a lie, how fear moves in when unconditional love is not present in the heart, and how to start emotional healing.
Until then, blessings!