One of my favorite children’s books is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. You’re probably familiar with it, but as a brief refresher, over the course of the book Charlotte the spider spun four messages about Wilbur the pig in an effort to save his life. “SOME PIG!,” “TERRIFIC,” “RADIANT” and “HUMBLE.”
In an effort to save your life what would God spin over you?
If you grew up in the church, you learned to sing Jesus Loves Me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.
Do you know God loves you?
Do you know Jesus loves you?
Do you know the Spirit loves you?
Loves you. Not loves what you do. Not loves your character. Not loves the ways you interact with people. Not loves your cooking or crafting or singing.
Jesus loves you. Do you know it? I’m sorry to go on and on, but I stumbled into a dark corner this spring and I can’t shake it. I lead an on-line book club for Christian women who live and serve cross-culturally. Our spring book was Expectations and Burnout: Surviving the Great Commission by Robynn Bliss and Sue Eenigenburg. Even if you don’t serve overseas, this is now my go-to book when it comes to expectations. The authors looked in depth at the expectations we have of ourselves and our roles, sending churches, sending organizations, co-workers, the culture, and of God.
The dark corner I stumbled into? Over and over women commented about what a new and freeing idea it was that God loved them. That they didn’t have to do more, move to a hard place, cook like Betty Croker, or be all things to all people. God loved them not because of what they did. Instead God loved them – loved them because they existed.
This is the heart of the gospel. Recently I have been reading the familiar verse John 3:16 from a fresh angle.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The three words that jump out:
God so loved us that He gave His son so we wouldn’t perish but have life. Perishing can start here on earth. Relationships with family members can perish. Hope can perish. Patience can perish. And when we move away from love, we move towards death.
It’s so subtle, isn’t it? God doesn’t want us to do things for him. He wants to do life with us. Some lies are easy to smell out. God wants you to put yourself through college by being a prostitute. Others are more subtle. God wants you to be give more time to your church.
Maybe He does. I don’t know what you and God are talking about. Why I say this is a subtle lie is because of how quickly we believe it. How quickly it sticks to us and we nod in agreement. Yes, I really should ….whatever it is that you think you should do.
As soon as you hear a “should,” a little bell needs to go off. Should you? Must you? Or could you? Might you? See the subtle shift? Hear the freedom? The wooing? The love?
God doesn’t want us to do things for Him, He wants to do life with us.
We’re back where we started. Do you know God loves you? If you don’t, stick around Self Talk The Gospel and this message will sink in. This is the heart of what we are about, telling ourselves and each other the truth.
God loves you.
God doesn’t need you doing more for Him to win His favor.
I’m on a bit of a love campaign. I lived in China for almost 20 years. I’m so thankful I did and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. But. You knew that was coming, right? But, when your full time job and focus and ways you raise money to support yourself are around what you do (how can a job not be around doing?), we need to counterbalance it with love.
Yes, we are made for a purpose. Yes, cooking and making crafts and singing are tasty and worthwhile and fun. Yes, work is good. But love is better. And knowing it is the best.
Jesus loves me, this I know. May this be your refrain today, tomorrow, and to the end of your days.
A version of this first appeared on Self Talk The Gospel