Does this even matter?
I mean: God so loved the world ... His love is everlasting ... His love never fails ... nothing can separate us from His love.
Warning: Brutal honesty from here on out.
I've always always always struggled to "get" this. I believe it, absolutely. For you.
But for me? I have not had much success in getting this beyond my head and into my heart.
I sometimes still see God as a "gotcha God" ... one who is waiting for me to mess up so he can drop the hammer on me.
What kind of foolishness is this?!
And so I started to wonder, even if I do believe that God loves me ... I wonder if He likes me?
He sees me. That is meant for comfort, I know. But I fear disappointing him over and over so I waffle between being grateful he can see me and wanting to turn away and hide in fear. This is my default and it makes me so sad.
I wrote this in my journal recently:
"I know you love me, but do you like me? This is entirely different. I can love without liking. Have I assumed the same of You? I've never thought about it in these terms, but this is the crux of it. I've felt human love way more than liking - the approval part of liking, the unconditional part of friendship, that is. And I continue to seek it and am so disappointed when it doesn't materialize."
Do you like me? Even when I blow it? I know You love me still, but are You continually disappointed in me? This is important to know!
Romans 8:1 says this: "Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." He's given me that gift of no condemnation. But it's more than just love, it's acceptance. He made me for his purposes, but when I wander in the dark, when I miss him entirely, does he still like me? How could he? Yet he must.
Continuing from my journal:
"Do your love and liking go together? Can one be separated from the other? If not, I should be living in the light of that truth. Not shrinking away from you.
Am I so focused on the desert that it feels like disapproval when it may just be preparation for your as-yet unknown plan? Can I stop striving and rest in that truth? Believe it with my whole heart?
I must, or I will stay stuck, constantly asking this question: What's the point of me?
I am weary of trying to please, trying to figure that out so I can win the approval of man, when all that matters is that I already have YOURS.
It seems that your love for me is not what's been tripping me up all these years, but instead your "like" for me."
Jesus intercedes for me. God protects me and provides for me, he doesn't abandon me. He doesn't put me down or treat me harshly. He beckons me. He has dealt kindly with me. THESE are the marks of not just a lover but also a friend.
In fact, Jesus calls me "friend." My soul is filled with light - the light of your approval, as your friend.
This changes everything.
I have been pondering it for a couple of weeks now, and I have searched the Bible high and low. I have have been astounded at the number of times Jesus has called me friend. (Go! Check it out!)
Friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). (That's me).
No greater love is this ... that one would lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). (He did.)
Friend, your sins are forgiven you (Luke 5:20). (They are.)
Friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:29) (I am.)
Make no mistake, I am not implying that my friendship with Jesus makes me his equal. NO WAY. Never ever ever. Sarah Young says in "Jesus Calling":
"The intimacy I [God] offer is not an invitation to act as if you were My equal - worship Me as King of kings while walking with Me hand in hand down the path of life."
Absolutely true ... I am not his equal. But he offers me his hand and his presence and his willingness to lead me through this journey called my life. And his friendship, pure and holy friendship as it was intended from the beginning of time.
So now, when I start to believe the lie of the "gotcha God," I am turning away. Back to the truth. To remember that even as he loves me, he also approves of me and he.likes.me.
How about you? Does this resonate? Have you ever wondered? Let's settle it now:
Yes. He loves us. He approves of us. And YES! He likes us!