By Josh Reich
One of my biggest struggles and I don’t think I’m alone in this is experiencing and believing God’s love for me.
One of the strongest and clearest messages throughout the Bible is God’s love for us. We are reminded that God doesn’t forget us (even though many of us feel forgotten), that God is close to us (also though He often feels far away), and that not only has He created us in His image but He knows us, and that doesn’t scare Him away (although we always fear that the moment someone truly knows us, they’ll bolt).
And yet, many of us still struggle to believe God loves us.
We believe God loves the world. We believe that through Jesus, God will redeem and restore the world, but we have a hard time placing ourselves in that.
So we run, we hide, we put up fronts, wear masks, beat ourselves up for past mistakes, try to earn God’s love, try to prove ourselves worth God’s love, and all the while God’s love sits there.
Philip Yancey, in his book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? shares this story: David Ford, a professor at Cambridge, asked a Catholic priest the most common problem he encountered in twenty years of hearing confession. With no hesitation, the priest replied, “God.” Very few parishioners he meets in confession behave as if God is a God of love, forgiveness, gentleness, and compassion. They see God as someone to cower before, not as someone like Jesus, worthy of our trust. Ford comments, “This is perhaps the hardest truth of any to grasp. Do we wake up every morning amazed that we are loved by God?… Do we allow our day to be shaped by God’s desire to relate to us?”
The problem for many of us is that we read verses about God’s love for the world and us (John 3:16), that Jesus loves us (John 15:9), that God predestined us in love (Ephesians 1:4-5), that God sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17), that God loved us first (1 John 4:19), that God draws us to himself (John 6:44). We read Paul saying over 160 times that as a follower of Jesus, we are “in Christ,” and yet we live each day as if God is disappointed in us, indifferent towards us, mildly happy with us or “likes” us.
What if, and I say what if not because it isn’t right but because we wonder if it is.
But what if, all those verses listed above, are about you and God’s love for you?
In Colossians 3:12, Paul tells us that followers of Jesus are chosen, holy ones, dearly loved.
One of the things all of us long for is to be chosen, to be wanted, to be pursued.
Many of us have nightmares from the playground of being chosen last for the team. Anything but the last one picked.
Not being asked to prom or the banquet, not being chosen for a scholarship, grant, or job.
Levi Lusko said God didn’t get stuck with you; He chose you.
Holy ones carry the idea that we are set apart, different. For something to be set apart, there is care with that person or thing. To be set apart carries the idea that there is a specific purpose for us, a plan, that’s why it is set apart.
Dearly loved is exactly what it sounds like. Many of us, though read that and wonder. You are dearly loved. Not just loved, dearly loved.
This is the basis for the Christian life, God’s love for you. Not what you do, not what you can do, but what God has done for you.
The most important thing about you is that God loves you.
David Benner said, “Some Christians base their identity on being a sinner. I think they have it wrong – or only half right. You are not simply a sinner; you are a deeply loved sinner. And there is all the difference in the world between the two.”
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