God Loves You!
For me the most amazing and touching thing about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was what one teacher did as she huddled with her young students. She told them that she loved them and everything was going to be OK. She wanted the last thing they heard was love. (you can see her story here: http://now.msn.com/kaitlin-roig-sandy-hook-teacher-recounts-saving-her-students-during-shooting)
This is important. Too often, way too often we hear the bad news that life sucks and so do we, but the bad news is not important. What matters is the good news. We 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 are all included in the loving embrace of God, because we are created and we are constantly 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 can mean be a simple way of stepping out of our own concerns and saying God loves you let me show you.
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 loves you and 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.
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.”
The rock on which you must build your life is God loves you! Each of us is a story of God’s love and grace enfleshed. My single, primary identity is as a Jesus follower loved by God. Everything must be secondary to this status.