God's Love Is the Beginning of Everything
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When asked about our primary function as human beings, Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” ().
But here’s the thing—we can’t give what we haven’t yet received. We can’t love before we’ve been loved. Like a battery, we need to be charged with the power of God’s love before we can love the way we’re meant to. Or like an engine, we’ll never live the lives we’re meant to live without being fueled, first, by God’s outrageous love.
Receiving love. Being loved. It’s the beginning of everything. It’s the beginning of life. It’s the beginning of us. To belong, to be cherished, it’s what we need most—even the smartest, even the most successful among us need it. And only God can address the totality of our needs. Only he can fill us with enough love.
So, clearly, we aren’t wired for some vague kind of spirituality. We aren’t wired for mere rules and lists and sermons. A cold, mechanistic, intellectual faith will never do. Only relationship, conversation, listening and speaking, knowing and following the God of heaven can ever fill us with the truth and life we need.
By getting in close, by allowing ourselves to be loved up close— that’s how we change, grow, mature. By getting to know God, enjoying his presence, trusting him, following him—that’s how we become the men and women we are meant to become. That’s how we break through barriers that have been holding us back. That’s how we push into lives that are much fuller—the kind of lives Jesus makes possible. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” ().
Because here’s the truth: in his love, we don’t stand a chance. His grace and power are simply too powerful. When we move in close, we can’t help but change and grow and mature. When we come into his presence, his grace and power permeate every part of our lives.
And then, finally, we’re able to begin to discover wholeness and confidence—fearlessness even. We learn how to stop hurting people so much—and hurting ourselves. We begin to discover the joy and peace and purpose and significance and connection we long for—and have tended to look for everywhere else.
When we accept God’s love, we get up in the mornings with more enthusiasm and energy and joy. We walk through our days with more confidence and well-being, with a sense of being cared for and provided for, with a sense of belonging and purpose. And we go to bed with more contentment and peace. We’re able to relax, finally. And finally, in his love, we’re able to begin feeling good about ourselves.
Knowing God and accepting his love strengthens us, lessens fear, gives us energy and focus. It makes us better equipped to deal with hardship and struggle and failure. It makes us more robust, more durable—able to take on what we never could have in our fragile, depleted, didn’t-know-we-were-loved states.
Will You Allow Yourself to Be Loved Today?
When we struggle to accept God’s mercy and love, instead of trying to will ourselves to accept them (because that’s hard), it’s often easier to flip things. When we engage in a practical act of loving him—like worshipping, for example—we open ourselves to receive his love for us. Instead of trying to bend our minds toward a theoretical acceptance of his love, we just let him love us. And he’s really good at that.
So find a space and a time when you won’t be interrupted. Your office. Your bedroom. Your car, maybe. And spend thirty minutes or so playing your favorite worship music, listening to the lyrics—and singing them, if you’re willing. There’s nothing quite like hearing your own voice in worship.
Copyright © 2020 Justin Camp, used with permission.
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