Jesus Loves Me?
Jesus Loves Me?
1 Corinthians 13:1-7
1 John 3:1 & 4:7-12
I think most of us would agree, that we all desire to be loved... and to love! That’s why most of us love dogs… “Man’s best friend.” When I come home, if I’ve had a bad day, my dog doesn’t care… My dog reacts to me the same way if I’m happy, if I’m sad, if I am depressed, if I’m angry. It’s been said that God gave us dogs to show us what love looks like.
Of course, there have been countless pages… books, songs, movies… and every other media that you could possibly imagine… Compiled in an effort to express the various meanings and understandings of love. What love is. What love looks like.
The desire, the yearning, to give love, and to receive love… is immeasurable. It’s probably the single most “all-encompassing” aspect of life.
One of the first songs we’re taught as children, has to do with God love for us. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The need for, and the desire for love, is certainly expressed in our relationship with our Savior… Our creator…
And I think we know that. I think we cognitively appreciate the fact that God loves us. Even though at times we struggle with that concept - at least emotionally. I’ve had people tell me there was no way that God could possibly love them. I’ve had people say to me that God is far away and removed… He couldn’t possibly desire a relationship with us, let alone love us, personally.
Even the most faithful people that I have ever known, the most religious, the most steeped in Scripture, struggle from time to time with the idea that God could actually love me. We don’t always necessarily have a problem with saying that God loves you, but we know us, right? Sometimes we wonder how in the world God could love someone as flawed, as sinful, as broken… as me.
The Word of God tells us - in clear, undeniable language: God is love… and we know that, right? We’ve read it, and heard it our whole lives! But we still struggle appreciating that God loves me, personally.
Of course, there are those times, those instances in life… When others were supposed to have loved us and didn’t, for whatever reason. Maybe some of us have parental issues… spousal issues… sometimes people take advantage of our love and compassion... and they push it beyond it’s natural or intended limits, and damage relationships. Maybe our experience in this world with love, this fallen world… has painted, or colored, our perspective of love and what love really is. Maybe it’s tainted our view of God’s love for us.
Of course, since others haven’t always been very loving towards us... we sometimes have difficulty imagining God loving us any differently. When, in the past, those who have loved us, reject us... and fail to adequately love us… somewhere in the recesses of our mind, and our heart, will begin to think that God could be no different. It’s much easier to believe that God is an imitator of us, as opposed do you and I being imitators of God.
In other words, self-doubt, experience... and a lack of understanding God’s love (and love in general) makes it difficult at times trusting and believing that God loves us.
But God’s love is a promise! God is love… he’s the source and supply of love, and he enables us to know love… real, genuine love.
Our Scripture lesson from 1 John begins, “Behold” - “See” or “How great... is the love the Father has lavished on us...” In the Greek, it’s an imperative; a definitive statement of fact, or a command! It’s as if God’s Word is saying, “Listen up! This is how it is” and there’s nothing you can do to change it!
4:7: love is from God. God is the source of love...
4:8: God is love. God is inseparable from love...
Jesus defines love, real love. Anyone can love those who love them back… There’s nothing special about that… but Jesus says to truly love, we should offer compassion to those who have no way (or no intention) to repay us... including our enemies. Those who persecute us. Those who say bad things about us and treat us unfairly. He definitely kicked it up a notch, didn’t he?
You see, what Jesus understood… What Jesus wants you and me to understand, and appreciate… Is that love is from God, and God is (IN FACT) love. In other words, God is the source of love... but even more: love is defined by God’s character, not ours. Love is defined by Who God is... not who we are.
God‘s character, was to love us when we were unlovable. For while we were yet sinners… Broken… Apart from God… God loved us. God sent Christ to die for us in an effort to express his love for us.
That means God‘s love is defined, primarily, by what he has done for us, right? God‘s love is expressed for us for the incarnation, the fact that God himself came to be one of us, to live as one of us. God‘s love for us is shown in the cross, and the resurrection... the fact that he loved us enough to suffer for us, in our place, and to defeat death for us! When ever we begin to doubt that we are loved... just look to the Cross.
And God‘s love is also expressed for us in his gift of the Holy Spirit, his presence with us always, and the good and the bad and then the in between.
God’s love is life giving. It’s self-giving (it’s sacrificial), he gave of himself to show us his love. And God’s love is for-giving. Thru the gift of Christ we are forgiven.
If we are in Christ… then this love - this life giving, self-giving, forgiving love - is available, in it’s entirety, to all of us, all the time. Not just when we feel loved or loving, but even when we don’t!
When you and I, begin to truly understand, and truly appreciate the fact that God… our God in Christ… Who is love... actually, truthfully, faithfully, loves us… it changes everything.
It changes the way that you and I respond to God… The way you and I worship God… The way you and I serve Christ. But it also affects the way that you and I love, serve, and appreciate one another.
When you and I become gratefully aware of the magnitude of the love that God has lavished upon us, and has shown us through his actions… We can’t help but want others to know that love, too. When we appreciate the fact that God loves us wholly, completely… It helps us to love others the same way.
Behold what love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be call the children of God.
This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us...
Jesus Loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!