An Identity Crisis Pt.2 (What Does God Think of Me?)

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What does God think about us? Does He like us better when we behave? Is He disappointed when we screw up? I think the real answer might surprise you.

Contrary to how we may have been raised, or to what we may have been taught in church, God’s love for us is not conditional. It is definitely NOT based on how we perform.

God’s love is passionate and ridiculous, intense and crazy! And it’s ALL about Him!

Do you believe that God loves you because of who you are? And I’m not talking about the good parts. God loves you because of who you are including your messes… What do you think about that?

God knows that we have no goodness on our own. He sees the absolute depths of our sin. And right there is where He loves us with such an intense, passionate, gut-level love that our hearts cannot even handle a portion of it.

I know this because God tells us about His love all through the Bible, but I KNOW it because I’ve tasted it. If you struggle to believe in God’s love for you, ask Him to fill you with His love for someone else. I’ll bet He picks someone you would never image and that won’t make any sense. (Warning: you will probably turn into a blubbering mess unable to handle God’s passion without tears.)

 

He was a wreck. Didn’t even make it through the first day of camp without getting sent home. Into every possible negative thing you can imagine, attitude and mouth the size of Mt. Everest, just trouble. TROUBLE. But we’ve been friends for the past two years, so he liked to hang around my health office and sit on my golf cart. I didn’t mind, but I told him that if we were hanging out then we were talking about Jesus.

We had a lot of interesting conversations in those few hours…chatting about God’s love and what God really wants from him, talking about what Jesus did for him, reminding him that the Holy Spirit was there to give him power beyond imagination. He was sitting on my golf cart when the director came to send him home. They drove off to the office and as I watched them leave, my heart was suddenly filled with  love beyond comprehension. I quickly escaped to a quiet hill where the tears started.

“He’s so beautiful, Jesus! Such a beautiful mess…” I just sat and let myself feel and cry. Then Jesus reminded me again, like He has many times before…

“That’s how I feel about you! I love you SO MUCH!!”

I soaked in Jesus’ crazy, unreasonable, insane, too-big-to-handle love, smiling, laughing, and crying until my eyes were red and puffy and my nose was a runny mess.

 

Does God feel emotion? You’d better believe it! Remember, we were made in HIS image.

Do you believe that God loves you this much? Or do you feel like He just puts up with you or loves you because He has to? He doesn’t put up with you. He doesn’t think you are a failure. You are a prized treasure, adored with a love you cannot fathom…not because of your “goodness” but because of His.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 

I don’t know about you, but that kind of love changes me. It brings me peace and confidence. It makes me love Jesus back. Suddenly I am willing to let go of control. I find myself wanting to follow Him and be like Him.

I think that is the point.

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No Condemnation!

 

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I remember the exact moment when I realized that Jesus not only loved me, but He also liked me unconditionally. Somehow in my mind I had confused the two. Love seemed like something He had to do because He was God, but I was pretty sure He only liked me when I was performing correctly.

It makes sense, sort of… Parents and teachers like us better when we follow the rules, and we feel their dislike when we are making poor choices. It’s hard to imagine God being different.

We put God in such a tiny box, a box made out of our own human reasoning and logic. Silly us! He is only more, always more, than we could ever imagine!

I was in my early 20s, about four years out of my “cult”, looking pretty normal to the untrained eye, wearing jeans, having cut my waist length hair, dating my boyfriend (now husband), and going to college. In the past I’d always been the rule follower, the people pleaser, the “good” girl. I did the right things to make people and Jesus happy with me.

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I might have perfected the art of looking good, but on the inside I was a wreck. Worry and stress were consuming me. I was fighting with anger and resentment. Regular panic attacks  were freaking me out. And because I didn’t know what they were, I thought I might be dying (but wouldn’t tell anyone). To top it all off, I felt guilty for being so out of control. I knew that there was no way God could be happy with me.

In desperation, I went for a walk in the woods to talk to Jesus. My goal was to confess my sin, and get right with Him somehow. As I walked, and talked, and cried, I came to an opening in the woods. The trees thinned out, and sunbeams broke through the leaves in long, warm rays. A gentle breeze tickled my hair. I stopped. It was so beautiful and peaceful. As I stood there, it was as though God put His arms around me. I felt His Presence, and I could almost hear Him whisper, “I have never loved you more than I do right now.”

I wanted to believe that it was God speaking to me, but I couldn’t because I had memorized Romans 8:1.

The group I grew up in was a KJV or NKJV only kind of place. These were the words streaming through my mind as I stood there in those quiet woods. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Maybe I’d heard a sermon on it or maybe it was just my own interpretation, but I had always thought that this verse was telling me that if I was performing correctly, in the spirit, then there was no condemnation. However, if I was walking in sin, in the flesh, then I was definitely under condemnation.

I went home and got out my Bible so that I could prove Jesus wrong, but the second half of the verse was missing! As part of the recovery process, I’d gotten a different Bible version. My English Standard Version only said this, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

What? That couldn’t be right! I went to the Internet and started looking up various Bible versions to find the missing half of the verse. None of the other versions had it. There was just no condemnation to those who were in Christ Jesus, period.

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I was in Christ Jesus! I had trusted Him as my Savior. I was His child. This was something I had never doubted. That meant that God did not condemn me! I sat on the floor of my bedroom and let it sink in. He had never loved me more than He did right now, even though I felt like a complete and total failure.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I embraced this truth. I basked in it. I reveled. I let Jesus love me, and like me, even though it didn’t make sense. He was so crazy! And amazing! And wonderful! It was my first glimpse of the beauty of grace.

So, friend, are you under condemnation? If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, then it’s not God’s condemnation! Let go, and live loved, and free, and forgiven! Embrace a God and His grace that doesn’t make sense. What would it take for you to believe this?

This Crazy Love

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Have you ever wondered how God feels about loving us? I used to think it was sort of a dutiful, emotionless, “because I have to” kind of love. As in, He’d rather not, but since He’s God, well then He’d better do it. I especially felt like this when I wasn’t performing “correctly” (according to my own standards of godly expectation). Then I met Frankie.

The first time I saw him, Frankie was literally being dragged by his ear to the principal’s office. I was volunteering at the middle school in my small town. Because it was a small town, Frankie’s reputation and the reputation of his family proceeded him. Put simply, Frankie was a redneck thug that came from a long line of redneck thugs who all lived in the skuzzy section of town. They were not upstanding citizens. Frankie was not a good student; he didn’t care about school, and he wasn’t very smart. No one liked him and some people were afraid of him. I watched through the library window as Frankie was pulled into the office, and I remember thinking, “Jesus, You love Frankie.” And suddenly , unexpectedly, I loved Frankie too. Not dutifully, or because I was supposed to, but painfully, passionately, and for absolutely no reason at all. It was amazing!

This is God’s kind of love for us. It’s wild, and crazy, and passionate, and free. He loves because that’s who He is (1 John 4:16) and He likes it. I can almost hear Him laughing, “Hahaha! You think you’re so bad, then I will love you even more!!” I think He looks at “bad” people and is like, “Yes! Watch Me love you! I’m amazing!!”

It doesn’t make sense, but I’m one hundred percent sure that He feels this way and more. Because, I have felt this way for someone that I should never have loved. I have been overwhelmed by God’s love to the point of laughing and crying like a crazy person because the emotion is too big to handle. The more God freely loves people who don’t deserve love, the more glory He gets, the more we stand in awe of Him, and the more we love Him back. (1 John 4:19)

I want you to do something. Read these verses, but not in a solemn, churchy voice; read it with passion bordering on insanity. Feel His love for you! Let it soak in deep.

  • “Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:`7
  • ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
  • “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
  • “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”  1 John 3:1
  • ” This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 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 4:9-10

God doesn’t love us because He has to. He loves us because He wants to, because He loves to, because that’s who God is! So tip your head back and relax. Smile up at Him. Let Him love you even though it doesn’t make sense.