Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Do you believe you are God's beloved?

Do you believe you are God’s beloved? Do you think God cares about you as an individual? What was your first response? Was it... "No. I am not God's beloved." Well when my teacher asked me this very same question, I had that response, and here is what it taught me about my relationship with God.
Jonathan wrote this spiritual adventure for a class at seminary. He is currently working on his Master of Divinity near Boston MA and hopes to serve as a pastor upon graduation.
“No. I am not God’s beloved.” This was a rather stoic response to the question, so I grabbed my pen, journal, and Bible, and left my dorm room to find someplace to think about what this all meant. I had to get away from Facebook and wall clocks.

As I penned a few select verses into my journal, prayed, and talked to God, I thought about the question. I knew I was God's beloved, but I didn't want to admit it, I didn't want to know what this meant for my relationships and life in general. If I’m truly God’s beloved, and know it from His word instead of just my chest, then this love suddenly becomes steadfast, reliable, and not so much like the ups and downs of the ocean surf.

As I walked down my dorm room hallway, I read the first few Bible verses. Matthew 3:16-17, "And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (ESV)

Slowing down I leaned against the wall for a moment. “I am God’s beloved Son,” I thought, but I already knew this lesson from a longtime ago. This wasn’t something new and it actually felt rather old and stale. The verse also said God’s voice came down from heaven. I’d never heard a voice and I’m not Jesus, so why should God take delight in me?

I thought about my Systematic Theology studies and how the Trinity in the verses is inviting us into that same intimate relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I sat thinking about this at the end of a dark hallway I’d never walked down before until the campus security guard dropped by and told me there was a reason I’d never sat there before. A few minutes later, I sat alone in the dimly lit prayer chape that smelled of feet.

I read Romans 5:5-6, "and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."

It reminded me to thank the Holy Spirit for pouring out God’s love on me. But then, why couldn’t I accept this love? Why was my first response that I’m not God’s beloved? I looked up and read the prayer chapel engraving over the altar Bible. It said, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of Grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

See, I needed to lay aside my preconceived feeling that God didn’t love me. Romans 8:35, 37-39 says I am, “more than victorious.” God created everything, not only for our enjoyment, but to also test us. And sometimes God tests us with our own emotions. I wrote a prayer in my journal, “It’s not about what I feel. It’s about what I know. And I know You are God and You sent Your Son to die in place of me. Gospel! So therefore, it's not what I feel, but what I know.”

At the library I read the final verses. Ephesians 1:4-6 says, "Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."

I needed God to teach me what it means to be his beloved, and as I read the final verses I recognized that I am adopted, which means I have a new Father in God the Father and a new Brother in Christ Jesus. God chooses us “before the foundation of the world.” This means His love is not good for just a really long time, but it’s eternal, which gives a lot of love.

We need to recognize God’s love outside of our rather tumultuous feelings. We have to recognize God’s love through the Bible—God’s written truth. Instead of using our hearts to reconfirm God’s love, we need to use our minds, which has a backwards way of helping the heart re-discover God’s love.

Photo By: Ms. Poison

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