This post requires a bit of background so I’ll give it as required.
It’s funny, but for as long as I can remember, the song “Jesus Loves Me” has tasted like cookies (the flower-shaped ones with the hole in the middle just perfect for your pinkie finger) and smelled like the paper used to create the large pictures of Jesus used to tell Sunday School stories in years past, which should tell you that for as long as I can remember, I have been in church. And that for just that long I have known that Jesus loves me. My testimony is not one of the Damascus Road. It’s more like the Ethiopian who said, after the Gospel had been explained to him, “Here’s water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” So I was. Because I believed.
But that doesn’t mean that I always understood. Still don’t sometimes.
It means that I began a life-long relationship with the one who teaches me still. Some lessons over and over, I’m afraid.
But I do remember the first time I really understood that Jesus loves ME…not just US. I mean, I knew he died for me. That’s why I wanted to be baptized in the first place. But once, a camp leader told me, “When you say John 3:16, you can put your name in it.” So I did. I went to bed that night thinking,
“For God so loved Charlie that he gave his only begotten son that if Charlie believes in him Charlie will not perish but have everlasting life.”
And, I never quoted that verse the same way again. Not because I don’t know (and LOVE) that God so loved the world, but that I was so awed by the fact that he so loved ME.
You see, for whatever reason, as a child, I often felt unloved. In my family, we joke that I have “second-child syndrome.” Whatever that is, I do tend to have it. I always knew that my parents loved me…I just often felt they didn’t love me like they loved the others. So, to know that God loved me just as much as any other person in the world began a change in my heart and life that impacted everything.
As I continued to grow up and in him, he continued to show me how he loves me…and you, too. I learned he loved me in some very special ways, and that knowledge absolutely changed my life. It can change yours, too.
3 Way God Loves You
- He loves us without condition. This is very important to a girl who grew up in the home of a perfectionist, a girl who felt that approval depended on performance. To know that God loved me no matter what I did (or how I did it) kept me from falling into the trap of a religion that was based on works and not on grace. How do I know this is true? Because “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Do you hear that? He didn’t wait for us to want him or to seek him or to love him or obey him…he died for us first.
- He chose us. You see, unless you were adopted, your family didn’t choose you. And, I often wondered if they really wanted me at all. (Again, not their fault…just my feelings.) But, the glorious good news is that God does want me to be his child. You, too. Just listen to this: “How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1) He “chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…” (Ephesians 1:4-5) Don’t you see? Not only did he choose us…He was happy to! It brought him pleasure.
- His love does not change. Mine does. Daily. It depends on circumstances, feelings, fear…anything can alter it. But not his. He says, “I have loved you with an ever-lasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) And, his word tells us that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)
So today, I pray that you and I both might just bask in the light of his love. Take confidence in it. As 1 John 4:16 says, “know and rely on the love God has for us.”