It’s a startling truth that we are loved by God. It’s a truth that I don’t always believe deeply enough, and even today a friend asked me how I could be so sure.
Christians are used to hearing it and telling it to others: “Jesus loves you” “God is love” “You are precious”. We sing it at church “I’m special because God has loved me” “It can trip off the tongue but if we are not careful it can become a shallow truth to us or a trite saying that doesn’t hold real comfort because we are unsure of its depth. Our non-Christian friends may think it’s just wishful thinking – a comforting thought to help us deal.
We should be continually surprised, amazed, and convinced by the love of God. If we are not, we have forgotten or we don’t understand. That’s to be expected but we mustn’t be content to stay that way!
I was recently at a conference for church workers, where someone reminded me that God delights in us. I found myself agreeing in my head, but my heart harboured doubts. We don’t always feel like this can be true! We know we wouldn’t love so freely and faithfully if the roles were reversed! We’re such a mess, and we don’t love him as we should, and sometimes life feels bitter.
God is infinitely powerful, Sovereign over all, creator and sustainer, holy, righteous, true, and just. And yet he loves the people whom he has made, deeply and personally! This is not some abstract thing, or even just a feeling. His love is a covenant – a promise and a faithful commitment, unyielding in good or bad times – we catch just a glimpse of this reality in the love and commitment of a faithful marriage.
What will make us truly believe it?
The Bible is full of God’s own words telling us about his love and care of us and our identity as his children. Jesus’ very great sacrifice at the cross is the prime and eternal example of his love, and the reason that sinners like us can feel secure in it:
1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
Lamentations 3:22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
Romans 8:37-9 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you’re a Christian, God’s love for you is a fact, its part of your identity, and you can’t lose it! If you’re not, God invites you to come to him, accept his love and forgiveness, and be his child.
I think it’s important that we continue to find God’s love for us surprising. If we truly understand its capacity and its cost we should be amazed and joyfully humbled by it, as the words of this hymn writer capture so well:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
It sounds too good to be true, but it is this good, and it is true.