At some intellectual level, most people “think” God loves them to some degree or another. Usually, it is perceived to be with a certain measure of conditions or limits. Yet, nonetheless, in our minds, we embrace the thought that God loves us. But, do we “believe” God loves us? Big difference. Believing God loves us moves us from thinking it to be true, to knowing it to be true.
In many relationships, people ask each other, “Do you love me?” Sometimes, frequently. The reason why they continually ask is because though they may think the person loves them, they don’t truly believe it. The repeated questions seeks to convince themselves of what they are not convinced.
Jesus once said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” Truth that isn’t believed can’t help you. If you don’t believe a person loves you, the truth of their love can’t get through to you. Our thoughts are important, but our beliefs are perhaps the most powerful force God has given to us. Through belief, and belief alone, God moves in and through our lives.
Do you believe God loves you? Your answer to this question can be one of the most influencing realities in your life.
Conversely, there are many people who are quick to declare their love for Jesus. Modern Christianity has nearly made a religion out of our love for Jesus. In fact, it’s very easy today to leave a Christian bookstore, church service, or conference with the very real feeling, “after hearing or reading all that, I can never do enough for Jesus, nor love Jesus enough” And just when you think you are making some headway, someone writes another book, speaks another message, or develops another conference that raises the bar once again with the reality, “there is something more that you aren’t doing now that you need to get after.”
Somehow, we have believed the lie that it’s our love for Jesus that authenticates and increases our closeness with Jesus. We actually believe that when Jesus said, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” he was actually giving us a command He expects we can and should fulfill. The truth is, Jesus used that statement to show us out. His admonition is purposed on giving us a window into the reality that we can never live up to the standards of God and His Kingdom. Our lives before faith in Christ in His finishing work on the cross are as good as dead. No effort, service, act of worship, sacrifice, or pursuit from us can ever bridge the gap. Furthermore, after salvation through faith, no effort, service, act of worship, sacrifice, or pursuit authenticates nor draws us any closer to Jesus. And for sure, none of it pleases God without being done from a foundation of faith in God’s work, not our work, His accomplishment, not ours. It’s as if we have turned our faithfulness as followers of Jesus into a way to convince ourselves of what we aren’t convinced… God loves us and His Grace is sufficient. We have turned our Christian acts of service into a repeating deep, spiritual question for God, “Do you love me?”, “Is your love for me, real?” “Did it work?” “Is it enough?”
In fact, contrast two people in the Bible, the disciples Peter and John.
It was Peter that boasted of His love and service for Jesus.
‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’ ‘I tell you the truth’ Jesus answered, ‘today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times’, But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the others said the same. -Mark 14:29-31
Peter was insulted that His love and faithfulness towards Jesus were questioned. He was so confident in his following abilities and service record that to suggest there would be any chink in his armor of devotion was less than an easy pill for Peter to swallow. Peter lived with the spirit of the Law in his heart that believed that closeness with Jesus and the authentication of one’s faith could be achieved through performance. It is this same spirit that is behind what we find today in the performance-driven Christian.
Yet, what was the result? Peter’s boasting of his love for Jesus was quickly followed by his denial of Jesus, three times in fact. Maybe Peter’s heart was in the right place, but His faith was in the wrong place… himself and his love. And it didn’t take long for that foundation to break down.
Contrast Peter with John.
It’s interesting that John refers to himself not as the disciple who loved Jesus, but rather “the disciple Jesus loved.” Now, we might think this was something other people said of John, but it’s only in John’s own writings that these references are found. John is the one that says Jesus loved him. Is John boasting that He was loved and the other disciples were not, or that he was loved more? No, not all. Rather, John simply has a sure sense that He is loved by Jesus, and stated such. He didn’t just think it, he believed it. Was he boasting? Perhaps, but only of Jesus’ love for Him. In fact, he apparently equated his identity with Jesus’ love for Him so much that he uses this phrase instead of referring to himself by name.
For John, he didn’t just think Jesus loved him, he believed it all the way. It wasn’t about his love for Jesus, but Jesus’ love for him. Where did this leave John? Not denying Jesus in some distant dark corner, but rather reclining right next to Him.
The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. -John 13:23
The more you boast of Jesus’ love for you, through faith, the reality of Jesus closeness to you becomes real. You find yourself with a deep sense of peace, closeness, and rest in the power and presence of Jesus. Your life and living is not from a spirit of the Law (performance) as it was for Peter, but from a foundation of Grace.
In fact, Jesus once said this to Peter…
“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” John 13:8
Once again, Peter was placing his performance as the foundation of his faith. He was so consumed by serving Jesus and promoting his love for Him, that the thought of being served by Jesus and the importance of such cut against the grain of his mindset and maybe his ego.
The truth is, none of our service to Jesus can draw us closer to Him nor establish our faith. In fact, according to Jesus, unless we receive from Him, we have no part in Him. The way our modern Christianity portrays the Christian life, you would have thought Jesus had said, “Unless you wash my feet in the water of your worship, devotion, sacrifice, and followship, you won’t belong to me.”
With people, it is more blessed to give than receive. But with Jesus, there is no blessing unless you receive, no matter what you give What does God want you to receive? His love and Grace for your life!
You are loved by God, receive it by faith today. Let Jesus wash your feet and serve you. Let Him pour His Grace out for you with all that you are and need. Let Him give you rest. Boast of Jesus’ love for you, not your love of Jesus. Don’t live your life trying to wash His feet, let Him wash yours. Let His love get through to you through believing it.
It’s this faith that pleases Jesus and receives the blessings and abundance of God for your life. What God wants most from you is for you , by faith, to let Him serve you, not you to serve Him. That’s Grace.
You are loved, believe it!
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10)