Do you know and believe that God loves you? It can be a tough question but it’s one that bears answering honestly.
So many of us are walking around acknowledging in our minds that God loves us, but not fully believing it. We want God to love us, but believing that He already does, is a whole different exercise. Much of believing and experiencing God’s love, is affected by our own limited human perspective.
“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:15-19
HE. LOVED. US. FIRST.
Not “we said all the right things, did all the right stuff, used all the right spiritual hashtags on Instagram and volunteered at all the right charity events, and THEN God loved us.”
Before we did a thing, He loved us first. Breathe that in a sec. Look at Jesus as an example–when He was about to be baptized at the very beginning of His ministry, before he had done any official ministry, God’s voice from heaven claims Jesus as His own and declares that He is pleased with Him. He hasn’t even gotten out of the water, let alone healed anyone, yet God declares that he loves Jesus and is pleased with him, simply because He is His Son.
And His love for us is no different. We are His children and before we ever do a thing, God loves us first. That is a love we can rely on.
I love reading the book of John because we see the confidence John had in God’s love. Throughout the gospel of John, he has the audacity to describe himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”. I must admit that for years I found this off putting because it seemed so bizarre for him to speak about himself in 3rd person. To be honest, it even sounded a bit arrogant to me.
In reality, John was simply stating that he was God’s beloved. When he talked about himself as the disciple whom God loved, he was carefully choosing words to describe his core identity. His identity was completely founded on His relationship with Jesus. Jesus was the defining relationship in his life.
Often we flip it don’t we? We describe ourselves not as the disciple whom Jesus loved, but as the disciple who loves Jesus. We strive to earn His love based on how much we love Him. In our striving, we miss the bigger picture. When we focus instead on Jesus’ love for us, it’s no longer all about us but about Him. When we describe ourselves as one loved by God, it is a truth about who we are, defined by God, not by us. We no longer have to prove our love, our value or our worth.
It gets even better. In an episode of the More To Be podcast, we recently learned something really cool about the phrase “The disciple whom Jesus loved”. Jennifer Dukes Lee tells us in this podcast that the Greek can literally be translated as “the disciple whom Jesus keeps on loving”.
His love for us isn’t conditional. That’s why John could be so confident and assured of his own identity in Christ. He knew there was nothing He could do to earn Jesus’ love, and yet love was perpetually given. As John spent time with Jesus, he observed and learned that Jesus is love. And that he is one loved by Jesus. Period.
In just a sweep through the gospels, we can see time and time again how much Jesus loved the people he came to save. Through the story of Mary and her sister Martha as he stood with them in their grief, with the woman with on-going bleeding, who he took the time to heal, even though he was busy, to bring restoration to her physically as well as emotionally. For Mary Magdalene who he came alongside at the grave to call out her name in her grief and give her great purpose. Jesus wasn’t concerned with appearance or what was most efficient, he was concerned about each and every person he encountered. He wanted them to walk away feeling like they were the most precious person in the world and he would do anything for them.
This verse in Ephesians captures this idea of fully experiencing Christ’s love:
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
As I see Jesus interact with women in the Bible, I see Him relating to me as well. Tender, patient, kind and cherishing me not as just a person who is loved, but as one of His beloved. Set apart and precious, worthy and treasured. More than liked or tolerated, but worth dying for. A deeper love than I could ever imagine, just like the Bible says, “too great to understand fully”.
His love has been made known to me in so many ways. In the lean times, when money was tight and He provided for us, in the times when blessing seemed to overflow beyond anything I could imagine, through the friend who just “had me on her heart” and thought to reach out, only to discover it’s what I desperately needed in that very moment. He has loved me through His Word, singing over me with love.
You don’t have to wonder everyday, does he still love me? Because the answer is always “Yes!” Before you get out of bed, before you speak a word, He loves you. In every moment, in every circumstance he KEEPS ON LOVING YOU. That is your core identity. That is my identity. We can have total and complete confidence in that.
Once you truly believe God’s love for you and embrace your identity as the wonderful, beautiful, chosen, daughter of the King whom Jesus died for because of His great love for you, it changes you at your very core. Every other decision, big or little, all our plans, and prayers and dreams all pass through that filter. It changes how we view the world and those around us, and it ripples out into every aspect of our lives.
Today my dear friend, that is our prayer for you. That you may experience the love of Christ, even though it can feel like a bit of a mystery, so that you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Lean into His love, make your home there and let your identity as His beloved be the source of your joy!