Growing up in a church environment I often gained social acceptance by being the “good Christian girl”. I always tried to memorize the most verses, say all the right things and seem the most spiritual. I went to all the camps and retreats, I even would search through the not underlined passages in my Bible to try and find one to highlight so it looked like I read my Bible all the time.
Somewhere along the line I became focused on trying to have the best relationship with God out of all my peers. I had put God in a box of having favorites. I thought that if I was more dedicated than the rest of my youth group, God would love me more. But this never seemed to work out and I was upset that all my hard work hadn’t earned me any higher favor with God.
I now realize that this is a very selfish and narrow minded way to view our God.
I did not want to share God with people, I wanted Him to myself. I wanted to be the one He loved the most. In church a few weeks ago, it really hit me that I no longer feel this way at all.
As the church body was singing “Amazing Grace” in both Thai and English I could not help but be deeply moved. Where before I was uncomfortable that God also loved people other than me, there was now amazement that my God was so big. His love was vast and it had touched so many people. It has broken so many chains, found so many of the lost, given sight to so many that were blind. It floored me that He is so deeply in love with so many people, and still loves me enough to know all the hairs on my head.
I realized that the hands I had been held in for so long were not just capable of holding me; they were capable of holding all of us. God is so much more loving than I ever dreamed of.
I was also struck by the realization that although I believed that God could never love me less, I always bought into the lie that He could love me more.
God cannot love us more than He did yesterday or less than He will tomorrow.
God’s love for me is in no way a reflection of my actions because I would never live up to deserve such a great love. I cannot make Him love me more if I go to church more, and He will not love me less if I don’t show up.
I also was very flippant about God’s love. I knew God loved me, and I believed it, but it wasn’t something that I really knew deep down. I actually used to hate reading anything that John wrote because it annoyed me how much he referred to himself as “the one Jesus loved”. I used to think about how selfish and stuck up it sounds that he felt like he could say that Jesus loved him repeatedly, especially when he referred to the rest of the disciples as their regular names. As I read through John with my team I became really convicted about believing myself to be Annie, the one Jesus loved.
John did not call himself that because he was self –righteous, he called himself that because he absolutely could not believe that Jesus loved him as much as he did. He was so floored by Christ’s love that every time he wrote out his name he was reminded that he was loved even though he was flawed, even though he was weak, even though he was not worthy.
Christ’s love for us is deep and wide and intimate and so, so detailed. It is not a surface, shallow love and it is not a love that can be changed- for better or worse- by anything we do. It is healing, it was mind boggling and it is humbling.