Without question, my greatest struggle and crisis of faith is, “AM I LOVED?” This question releases its evil first cousin; “WILL I BE LOVED?” Is being loved and loving contingent upon if I do some proverbial duty, service, behavior, performance enough and well enough? Close on their heels is “can I really love” without impure motive or impunity?
The only correct answer to these questions is simply God is Love.
What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it – we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.(1 John 3:1a, Msg)
Look deeply into the glory of love! Having begun in Father’s unmerited, unconditional, unending love; it elicits the following response!
My beloved friends let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. 8 The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love – so you can’t know him if you don’t love. 9 This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. 10 This is the kind of love we are talking about – not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. 11 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12 No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us – perfect love! (1 John 4:7-12, Msg)
13 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. 14 Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. 15 Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. 16 We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. 17 This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day – our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. (1 John 4:13-17, Msg)
18There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love. 19 We, though, are going to love – love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. 20 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? 21 The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. (1 John3:18-21, Msg)
There can be no less a response. Your faith experience of love gives rise to the intensity of your hope. There remains faith, hope and love; the greatest of these is love. The Abba of Jesus always pursues you and me as a tremendous, unrelenting lover! Herein is the essence of what we call Christianity. This is the Good News of Jesus Christ! This is the Gospel of Grace!
Father, because I am loved and I love…
I don’t have to explain myself to you.
I don’t have to excuse myself to you.
I don’t have to abase myself before you.
You know all about me, and you call me friend.
You call me your delight.
You call me your beloved.
Because I am loved and I love…
I need not lie prostrate on my face before you.
I am free to run to you.
I am free to run into the circle of your waiting, always open arms, to enter the fullness of your embrace,
to be held safely, strongly, securely, softly against your heart.
Because I am loved and I love…
I don’t have to worry about my response or lack of it.
I don’t have to struggle with my desire to understand.
I don’t have to wrestle with my feeling of unworthiness.
All I have to do is be still, stay close and let you love me.
But because I am loved and I love, I try.
Here I am, Father.
Still, for once. Closer than I’ve ever been.
Waiting. Accepting. Wanting. Believing.
Love me, Father. I will love. (Inspired by Brennan Manning)
Loved and loving. Ron Ross