Think About His Love
Based on what people have shared with me, probably the greatest struggle that Christians face is to experience the love of God for them the way that God intended. While we vary on how much we can intellectually understand and explain about what it means that God loves us, there are few who seem to experience and “abide” in His love as Jesus commanded. This is our great struggle, and it was as true in the New Testament church as it is today, for Paul was even back then praying for them to get it (see Ephesians 3).
The reason this experience of God’s love needs to be more than merely theory in our lives is because it is from our experiencing and abiding in God’s love that peace, security, presence, power, the desire to witness, and worship overflow. Since it is a common struggle, I want to address it here in a bit different genre that usual—through the words I wrote to a friend who has struggled with sensing the love of God. I hope by reading these truths in this format they may become more personal to you:
“My dear friend,
Do you believe that I love you? I hope the answer to that question is yes. Now, why do you believe that? Is it because I have said it, and have demonstrated it? And for what reasons do you think I love you? Is it because of the gifts you’ve given me over the years? No, while I do treasure them because they remind me of you, and display your special talents and speak of your affection, that’s not why I love you. It’s because I firmly believe that God gave us our friendship for a very special purpose—it is His gift; you are His gift in my life, and I treasure you. It’s because we share so much. We still keep finding new ways our hearts resonate to the same things. It’s because you like to go deep. It’s because we can be vulnerable with one another. It’s because we are both God-chasers, and no matter how often we stumble we both get up and head in a Godward direction. It’s because I delight in seeing what beauty God has placed in you: your strengths, your insights, and your sense of humor. I think He has given me the gift of seeing you through His eyes.
“There’s much more to say about our friendship, but I’m saying this to lay a groundwork for my real point. As we struggle to feel that God loves us, we find He loves us the same way you know I love you. He tells us (so many places in His word), and demonstrates it—whether significantly on the cross, or in the multitudes of daily kisses He gives which point out His special way of meeting us: through nature, or songs, or His word, His spirit, or words of encouragement from a friend.
“As to the question, ‘For what reasons do you think I love you,’ it is not because of what we give Him, either. While He delights in our reaching out to Him, the gift of our joy in Him, our aching for Him, our worship and service and dependence, His reasons for loving us are not in what we give. Jesus mentions several times that His followers are gifts from the Father. WE are a gift to Him. He loves us because we are a love gift from the Father, a treasured possession–as incredible as that may seem, that is what the scripture tells us. He delights in our fellowship with Him, our dependence on Him, the way we get up when we stumble and head in His direction. All those things related to our own loving friendship with one another are reflected in His loving relationship with us, as well.
“So, as you feel my love for you, thus you can begin to see a dim picture of the love He has for you. This is part of God’s design. When Paul tells the Ephesians about his prayer for them that they can see/know the love of God that is beyond knowing he says, ‘I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…’ I underlined that part, because I believe part of what Paul is saying is we learn to see what is more intangible through what is tangible—through loving people. While we love imperfectly, we are snapshots of God’s love, so we can begin to relate to His love. Just as fathers are imperfect demonstrations of the Father, and husbands are imperfect demonstrations of the Bridegroom, friends and loved ones are imperfect demonstrations of the love of God. But where they do hit the mark, they are demonstrations, none-the-less.
“After writing the first draft of this letter, I had this premise confirmed to me in a book I was reading yesterday, Surrender to Love, by David Benner. Benner says, ‘Human love communicates divine love. There is no other source of love but God. Experiences of human love bring us therefore into an indirect encounter with divine love by making the idea of God’s love believable…Hints of unconditional love from humans makes the possibility of unconditional divine love imaginable.’ So, when I say, “If you can sense my love for you, you can use that to sense God’s love for you,” I’m not making things up out of just my own opinion, it is an opinion that is shared.
“I hope my love for you as your friend does help you sense more tangibly the love of God for you. I know I feel the call to demonstrate that love by constantly pointing to Him and to His love for you and to you, and not just to my own love–while still assuring you of my own love for you. My love for you is His gift to you—and to me. He is loving you through me, and loving me through You. I have come to know His love better because of you…”
My hope is that each of you can think of someone in your life who could have written this letter to you—someone whom God has used to show His love to you, whether a parent or grandparent, sibling, spouse, or friend—someone that demonstrated love to you as a snapshot of God’s love. My further hope is that you have been, or will strive to be, that someone who loves in the lives of others, for that is one of the main ways God intended His love to be shown and known in this world.
As we know more of His love, we are drawn more deeply into it, and become ones who can worship from the depths of our hearts, returning His great love for us.