Are you like me?
I have a hard time accepting people’s kindness and love. As you can imagine, I sometimes struggle with God’s perfect love as well.
I lived my life believing that I had to earn God’s love. (Which is impossible, if you were wondering.)
But I set unrealistic expectations on myself of how I needed to live so I could receive God’s love.
I failed miserably. Everyday. And I still do.
I found myself chasing after the wrong kinds of “love” while running away from God’s love.
I battled with numerous addictions over a period of time and struggled with believing that God could never love or use me again. It was a heartbreaking thought; God giving up on me.
Here is the good news: God doesn’t give up on His people.
“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8 NLT).
I wanna focus on the word “while.” While I was living in the sin of my addiction, God loved me.
While I was battling with my sin, God loved me. And by His grace, I found the strength to turn from those sins and follow Jesus.
He doesn’t require us to get to an imaginary finish line before He comes to save us. He meets us where we are and walks with us.
I’m not sure where you find yourself today. Maybe you feel far from God. Maybe you feel enslaved to sin. But God has shown His love for sinners through Christ. And this love that draws us to repentance is a love that never fails.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love” (Rom. 8:38 NLT).
Nothing we do is going to change God’s love. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, those who belong to Christ are never far from the love of God.
Upon giving our lives to Christ, we struggle with lesser loves. We still find within ourselves a desire for worldly pleasures. A yearning for material possessions. A longing for satisfaction apart from Christ. There’s a battle for the affections of our hearts. And if we’re not careful, we might forget our love for God altogether.
The Bible says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17 ESV).
That’s why I’m here. Let me explain.
At the end of my life, I don’t care if anyone knows my name. I don’t care if anyone remembers my work. I just hope people know Jesus a little bit more because of me.
Love is a verb. When we love people, those people see God through our love.
“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us” (1 John 4:12 NLT).
She sat beside me on the airplane.
“Hi,” she said.
“How are you?” I asked.
The conversation quickly ended. It was a long flight from Dallas to Columbus. She fell asleep. I read my new book. But the silence didn’t last long.
The flight attendant eventually made it to our row. He asked if we wanted anything to eat or drink. She woke up. I requested some black coffee. And a conversation began brewing.
Last semester, I learned a Hebrew prayer known as the Shema.
Jews view the Shema in a similar way that Christians view the Lord’s Prayer. But there’s certainly a difference. Devout Jews actually recite the Shema twice a day. You may be wondering where this prayer comes from. It’s actually in your Bible!
Moses says, “‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might’” (Deut. 6:4-5 ESV).
I can actually recite those two verses in Hebrew. The Jews recite more than two verses, but those two verses are the essence of the Shema.