I just read something that I have to react to. But I need to give a bit of background about me first.
I became a Christian in 1984, and it has not been an easy ride. I sometimes envy others who tell of how they were social problems before they heard about Jesus, and how His love turned them around.
I don’t have that kind of story.
I was the favored child, the smarter one. I was sent to exclusive schools, given the best opportunity to hone my music skills, allowed to go to any university I wanted. But when I chose to trust Jesus to save me and lead me (what Christians would call “receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord”), things went downhill.
I lost favor with my family. When I discovered that I really wanted to be a musician for Jesus more than a filmmaker (my original college course), I lost focus and started to fail, eventually dropping out. But even my music course proved to be not quite the direction I knew I had to take, and I eventually dropped out again.
Instead of looking for a 9-5 job, I became a volunteer for Christian organizations. I worked as hard and as long as any employee, but was hardly paid. It was many years before I realized that my mother saw this more as her daughter being exploited, making her think less of the faith I had chosen over hers.
There is a verse that says that anyone who follows the Lord Jesus Christ will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Although I’m wary to call what I had gone through “persecution.” Nero persecuted Christians. I was simply losing favor with my parents.
And yet through all this, I had the strange assurance that God favors me somehow. It was only a couple of years ago, after going through Joseph Prince’s book Destined to Reign, did I understand why.
My focus changed since then. I used to be so concerned with wanting to show Jesus how much I loved Him, how faithful I can be, how useful to His kingdom.
Joseph Prince showed the difference between Peter and John: Peter, like I have been, tried to prove his love for Jesus. John realized something more life-changing than his love for his Master. He realized how much His Master loves him.
That’s why at the end of his life, he called himself the Apostle whom Jesus loved.
And that’s what I’m realizing now: Jesus loves me. Me!
It’s been many years, but today someone challenged me again with 1 Corinthians 13:4 -7, called the Love passage. I was told to measure myself and how loving I was by this passage, substituting my name for the word “love”. You don’t have to guess how well I did, I’ll tell you:
But if it’s about Jesus’ love for me and not my love for him, then the right way to read this passage is not as criteria I should meet, but the ways Jesus shows me His love. If there was any name to be substituted for the word love, it should be JESUS, not mine.
I invite you to read my paraphrase of this passage out loud:
JESUS is patient with me and kind to me (He can stand my failures and doesn’t look down on me because of them). JESUS is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude (He does not need to prove that He’s better than me and I’m worse than Him). JESUS does not demand His own way (He doesn’t force me to obey Him, although He loves me enough to show me that disobedience is the more harmful choice). JESUS is not irritable toward me and does not keep a record of my wrongs (He forgives me because my sins have already been paid for. By Him!). JESUS does not rejoice with injustice against me (He doesn’t enjoy seeing me suffer) but rejoices whenever the truth wins out (He laughs with joy when I finally see how His promises to me work ). JESUS never gives up on me, never loses faith in me, is always hopeful for me, endures through every circumstance I am in (He believes in me and stays with me no matter what). JESUS never fails me (He will never disappoint me and will always fulfill His promises to me, regardless of my faithlessness and unfaithfulness).
Yes, Jesus loves me. Not because I deserve it or have earned it. No way!
Here’s the chorus of a song I’m writing. I hope it strengthens your heart and assures you of the truth of Jesus’ love for you:
God loves you anyway, so Jesus died for you, no matter what you’ve done, said or thought or didn’t do. Jesus loves you anyway, for you He rose again, then sent His Holy Spirit to be with you to the end, because God loves you anyway…
And God loves me anyway, too.