I sign off all of my posts with “you are loved,” and I wanted to talk about why.
I love our church. I am constantly blown away by the way they receive people and love them whole heartedly, without condition the way Christ demands. It’s something that should be a given for a church, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Our church is unique in many ways, but the way they love is the number one thing that sets them apart. I mean, it makes sense doesn’t it? Christ calls us to love one another as ourselves above everything else. It’s his top commandment. We are to love each other as Christ loves us.
If you grew up in church you have probably heard that phrase a thousand times, and while that doesn’t make it less true, it tends to lose it’s impact. We so often repeat the words without stopping to take a moment and reflect on what they truly mean. “Love one another as I have loved you.” How does Christ love me? He loves me with a ferocious, immeasurable, all-consuming, unconditional, sacrificial, give-up-everything-to-be-with-you kind of love. When you think about it that way, loving one another the way He loves us is a pretty high calling. It’s definitely not something I could accomplish on my own, but God, time and again, proves that his love is sufficient for me. Our church, though made up of broken people, through God’s grace, has been able to demonstrate this kind of love over and over.
At the end of every service they say “you are loved.” On the surface, it just sounds like something people say, but I promise you it’s so much more than that.
Let’s break it down:
YOU. You directly, as an individual, right where you are sitting. I think people tend to generalize God’s love and gloss over how deeply personal it is, and it is so deeply personal. You were made by the same God who spoke the universe into existence. The one who created the beauty we see all around us in nature here on earth. He made the stars and the sea and yet his favorite creation is you. He loves absolutely nothing more than you. In fact, he loves you so much, that he was willing to die for you. I think everyone can agree, there is no greater love. And if it had just been you on this earth, he still would have died. You are so incredibly special to Him, that you are worth dying for. He didn’t say “well maybe when she shapes up her act, or even starts believing in me at all, thats when I might lay down my life.” No. He looks at you exactly as you are in this moment and feels nothing but intense love for you. There is nothing you have done or will do that isn’t covered by the love poured out for you on that cross.
ARE. You are actively loved in this moment, right now. It’s not about who you were or what you did 10 years ago or even 10 minutes ago. This very minute, right now, God is actively pursuing you with his love. He’s not sitting on the sidelines waiting for you to come around someday. I used to think of God as far off and distant, like he would only be near to me when I came crawling back to him groveling for his forgiveness, where he would reluctantly and conditionally forgive me until I messed up again and we were back at square one. This mentality is both exhausting and completely untrue. When you truly seek God’s heart, he forgives you once and completely. That forgiveness covers ALL of your sin. It’s as if you got in a tough spot and racked up so much credit card debt you were about to file for bankruptcy and he just pays your bill without a word. Just like that. Gone, done, paid. Please believe that God is not far off and he is ready to carry you. I know how it feels to think you have to go to God as if he is just sitting in a big chair waiting for you to finally realize your mistakes and come around. That kind of relationship is one sided and takes everything from you, so I ran from it. But while I was running, he came chasing, and when I was so tired I couldn’t run anymore, he didn’t say I told you so. He just embraced me, covered me, and carried me home.
LOVED. You are loved infinitely, more than words could ever express. The love isn’t conditional. Once you have accepted that love, absolutely nothing will separate you from it. I used to think that God was a big judge with a gavel in sky and as soon as I messed up or did something wrong, he would turn his back on me until I was perfect again and so on and so on. I’m tired just thinking about it. The love he has for you is not in any way swayed or changed based off of what you have done, are doing, or will do. It’s hard for us to imagine this kind of love, because all humans love conditionally. We all have a point where someone has done something so bad or hurtful, that the love you had for them changes, or goes away completely. Please hear me. God’s love for you is finite, eternal, and is exactly the same for you now as the day you were conceived. It hasn’t changed at all, not even a little bit.
You. Are. Loved. Ferociously, completely, without condition, forever, you are loved.