June 18, 2012
Our family was heading out on a long drive to the Jersey shore for the Memorial Holiday weekend and we got into significant, emotion-filled discussion about some hot political issues … homosexuality, gay marriage, premarital sex/pregnancy, our entitlement system, and some other controversial topics. At one point our daughter started crying. She thought that some of our points against these behaviors equated to not loving the people who struggle with these issues.
This reminded me of a time in her teens when she confided her concerns about how much we loved her. She asked if “I got a nose piercing, would you love me?” “If I drank alcohol, would you love me?” “If I had sex, would you love me?” And the doozey in her mind was, “If I came home pregnant would you still love me and accept my baby?” You see, it is easy for us to see that someone loves us when life is going well. It is much harder and confusing to see someone’s love for us when we are experiencing adversity. That’s especially true if the person loving us is communicating disagreement or applying discipline to express love and concern for us. This is where Satan tries to worm his way in and plant the seed of doubt as we ask whether God really loves us.
In our world system, and in every relationship we have, it is so hard to comprehend truly unconditional and perfect love. First, it doesn’t exist outside of God. Second, we are self-centered and either think we need to do something to “earn” it, or that we are not worthy enough to receive it. As parents, we love almost unconditionally (especially if we have good kids). But parental love is not even close to perfect. Parental love is conditional; the condition is, the kids are ours.
God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the only ones who can give unconditional and perfect love. It really is humbling … it still brings actual tears to my eyes (and I don’t cry easily). The King of the universe loved me enough to actually give up His throne, suffer, be humiliated, limit His power, be tortured and mocked, and not only die for me, but endure separation from His Father for the first time ever. All for me … and I didn’t do anything to “earn” it. Actually, I sinned a lot to “unearn” it. Romans 8:39 ends the debate.
Todays, and every day, when you are feeling unloved, devalued, unappreciated, forgotten, lonely, or isolated, remember there is nothing you can do or fail to do that would separate God’s love from you. Don’t let Satan’s lies or your own flesh or baggage get in the way of His truth. Stop walking around in fear of screwing up and losing His love. Live in the freedom of God’s forgiveness and love … and show your gratitude … today and every day. Notice how these truths, when repeated over and over, will start to alter the lenses you use to see your everyday life. Whether you see His love or not is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Loving Father, At times, actually all the time, I feel so unworthy of Your love and grace. I do so little in Your name. I am so thankful for the truth of Your Word. What a comfort to know that You will let nothing separate me from Your love, the love that You revealed through Your Son Jesus Christ. I ask that You fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I may, step by step, achieve the “mind of Christ.” This is my desire and my goal. Help me understand, and then help others to understand that the heavy lifting has been done for us. There is nothing we can do or fail to do that will turn You away from us. Help me this day, Lord, to remember the simple path to everlasting life: Believe>Receive>Become. I pray this in the name of love personified, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7