You Are Loved!
The good news is that God loves you (yes you) just as you, but way too much to leave you that way. God’s love is radical, transformative, fierce, unbelievable, unlimited, and unconditional. God’s love for us is not only amazing but cannot be earned and does not rely on anything we could ever do. Since it does not depend on us, we cannot lose it.
No matter what you have done or have not done, God loves you. God loves you personally. No one, absolutely no one is outside of the love of God. We all included in the loving embrace of God, because we all created and are continually being made in the image of God. We become sons and daughters of God by loving everyone indiscriminately, just as God does. God’s love frees us up to be who we really are and this perfect, divine love transforms us into our best self.
Nothing can separate us from God, but there are things we can and should do that more fully manifest the love of God in our life and the lives of others. This is not about earning God’s love but responding to it, because we are compelled by it. A smile, greeting a stranger, talking with someone, helping another, opening a door, weeding a neighborhood garden, picking up trash doesn’t require much, but can mean be a simple way of stepping out of our own concerns and saying God loves you let me show you. We are not saved by the good we do.
Do you really believe that God loves you?
Not in some general way, how God loves everyone and not in some impersonal way or as some theological or philosophical construct that has no basis in reality. God loves you in a deeply personal way.
God looks at you and loves you. God sees your faults, shortcomings, inadequacies, all the things you’ve done (good and bad), all the things you haven’t done and loves you anyway. God loves you in spite of yourself. God loves you fat thighs and all! God doesn’t ask you to change to suit his needs and whims. God’s love is not conditional or fickle. God loves you as you are, no strings attached, but way too much to leave you that way.
Someone who I pointed this out to said that she didn’t believe it. She believes that Jesus died for our sins, but cannot accept that God loves her personally.
I will repeat here what I told her that to believe that Jesus died for your sins without believing that God loves you personally is wrong and only goes halfway. Jesus died on the cross to fulfill God’s love of everyone, God’s personal love of creation. On the cross, God showed us how very much he loves us. The entire bible can be seen as an epic love story and the New Testament is one long love letter detailing the loving action of God in history and the first Christians response to it.
When I first heard of the truth that Jesus loves me and that I have done nothing to earn it, it seemed unbelievable at best and at worst a happy little story that had no basis in reality. I now, thankfully know it is true and try to live it out each day.
A story about Therese of Liseux has her playing with a sister in the family garden when their older sister brings a basketful of toys that the older sister said she had outgrown and gives them a chance to take what they want. Therese’s sister takes a ball of string. Therese takes the basket saying, “I chose the whole lot.” This summed up her attitude to life and response to God. “I choose all God has chosen to offer.”
God loves you! That is the rock on which you must build your life on. Each of us is a story of God’s love and grace enfleshed. We don’t have to be perfect only on the way.
My single, primary identity is as a Jesus follower loved by God. Everything must be secondary to this status.
Robert Farrar Capon said, “My life is a witness to vulgar grace–a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up a ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request–”Please, remember me”–and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mine. This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.”