They were attractive and I wanted to be like them. So I tried to work out how I could love God so I would look how they did.
I used to give myself a hard time asking how it could be that I didn't love God more and better when He had done so much for me. But I realise now that we will never really love God unless we know His love for us.
I watched those people from a distance so I have no idea what made them love Jesus the way I thought they did. But they must to some extent have known that they were loved.
However, I do know what Jesus says about loving Him:
That verse used to make me feel as if you needed to go and do something really, really bad to be really, really forgiven so you would really, really love. Of course it's not just WHAT we are forgiven of that determines the extent of forgiveness we receive. We are all as much sinners as each other whatever we actually do, or have done, and yet we have been seated beside God in spite of it because of the forgiveness we have been given.
SO... How do we KNOW He loves us? How do we begin to love much? As we begin to live as if we have been forgiven much. As if we have been given Jesus’ righteousness.
This means living as if nothing changes our status or the way God sees us. NOTHING we say or do or think.
So rather than living with a constant unease, we can just give up.
Know that when we wake up in the morning, even if the whole world is falling in, we are still OK because we are forgiven and righteous.
It doesn’t matter what I have done, am doing or will do wrong. I can breathe easy.
At first, especially if you’ve been a Christian for a while, this can sound like everything that is ridiculous, ungodly, irresponsible. But it can also be the approach that saves your sanity and massively improves the way you behave.
So today, what if you let it all go?
If you set yourself free from the pressures and expectations you put on yourself? Think: I don’t have to look after my family well, or love well, or get this house clean, or do my job perfectly.
BECAUSE I can let it all hang out and my status is unchanged.
It doesn’t matter today that I’m stressed and grumpy and miserable because I’m already forgiven for all of it and still righteous. I’m still beautiful. I’m still loved. God is still with me. Still smiling at me.
As you come back to this everyday, I believe that your life will pick up from this place of GRACE. That you will feel love for people you didn’t feel before. That you will want to talk to God in prayer or go to church or read your Bible more than you have before.
Because you begin to see the immensity of what has been done for you. This extraordinary forgiveness. And it changes everything.