PROGRAM W-1791 – Part I
No theme has been more used—and abused—than the theme of love. Since the beginning of time, songs and poems have been written about love; movies, plays, and novels by the millions have focused on this love theme. Obviously, love is very important to all of us. We all need and want to be loved. But have you ever thought about why we need love so much?
Here are a few of the reasons that we long for love:
- Knowing we are loved gives us comfort.
- Knowing we are loved gives us confidence.
- Knowing we are loved helps us get past our insecurities.
- Being loved gives us emotional strength. It helps us prevail in hard times.
- Being loved inspires and motivates us.
- Being loved makes us joyful and happy.
Thankfully, love can come to us from many different sources: parents, siblings, mates, and friends. Even if we’re missing love in one area, we can find it in another. It also comes in many different forms. In his book on love languages, Gary Chapman lists the five love languages as these:
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
You can probably quickly identify which one of these five languages speaks love to you—or maybe you’re thinking you need all five! There’s no question that we need love and lots of it—throughout all our lives, in all stages of our lives, and from lots of people in our lives.
That’s the way God created us. The Bible tells us that God is love; love is his character, his being, and his personality. So, since we are created in God’s image, it shouldn’t be surprising to discover that we are love-hungry creatures. The God who is love, the only true God, loves us! That’s the great message of the Christian faith: We are all loved by God:
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. (John 3:16)
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
We’ve sung it since we were children: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. But how many of us truly experience the great benefits that come from knowing that Jesus loves us? I must tell you that far too many of us have sung the song, Jesus loves me, this I know, but we’ve never lived in the joy of that truth. I mean, when we really get it—that we’re the one Jesus loves—that has to have life-changing effects for us. That truth should dig us right out of self-pity and give us the comfort, joy, and completeness that we so need. It should supply for us all those love-needs we have because if Jesus loves us, and we know it—we really know it—then it just fills up all those missing pieces that so often have caused us to do lots of crazy and harmful things as we looked for love in the wrong places.
So, what’s keeping us from really enjoying and living in the truth that Jesus loves us? Well, one reason could be that God’s love seems impersonal to us. If God loves everybody, what’s so special about the fact that God loves me? After all, God loves everybody.
Love is transforming in our lives when we know that the one who loves us is worthy, and we believe that love is directed to us individually.
For example, I am very secure that my mother and father loved me. I was so blessed to be raised in a home where that love was rock-solid—never once did I ever doubt for a minute that my parents loved me. But if I told you that I know they loved me because they loved everybody, that would not describe their love for me. They loved me because I was their daughter; I had a special relationship with them because I was born into their family. They loved other people, true, but they loved me special.
So, when we say that Jesus loves us and God loves us, we have to understand that while it’s true that God loves everybody, he loves us individually and uniquely. We’re not just part of some cosmic impersonal love blanket that God spreads over all his creation. No, we are known by God and loved by him personally.
Obviously, if we were talking about earthly love, we would definitely question any one person’s ability or sincerity to say they loved everyone. That would hold very little meaning for us. For example, if the President of the United States were to declare that he loved all Americans, we might think that was nice and appreciate the sentiment, but it would have no real impact in our lives because we don’t know the President personally and he doesn’t know us either. That kind of blanket love would have little if any meaning for us.
Therefore, it’s not enough for us to know that God loves the world; we have to know that God loves us—individually, distinctively, and uniquely. I want you to know that God is love, and he is so totally all about love, that he loves you with a portion of his love that is meant for you alone. His love is so big, so deep, so beyond our earthly understanding of love, that he can give you all the love you need and it’s just for you. Yet there’s plenty more where that came from.
God’s love is personal. He knows your name. He knows you better than you know yourself. He never loses track of you. He never forgets about you. He never gives up on you.
Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you—never. Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands. (Isaiah 49:15-16, MSG)
There’s no other love like God’s love—you can take that to the bank. He never leaves you or forsakes you, and nothing can separate you from his love.
I mentioned that my theme, you are the one Jesus loves, comes from the Gospel of John. That’s because five times in his Gospel, the Apostle John refers to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” For example, in John 20:2 he tells about what happened on resurrection morning:
So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him.”
If you didn’t know better, you might think that John had an ego problem. Did he think Jesus loved only him and not the other eleven? Of course not. John knew for certain that Jesus loved them all. Note what he said about Martha, Mary, and Lazarus:
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (John 11:5)
And when Jesus wept at the tomb where Lazarus was temporarily buried, the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36)
And, after all, he wrote John 3:16: God so loved the world. John knew full well that the love of God was the same for everyone. But he still referred to himself five times in writing that he was the apostle Jesus loved. Why? None of the other Gospel writers use that terminology about themselves. Why does John call himself “the one Jesus loved”?
Because his identify was found in the knowledge that Jesus loved him—individually, distinctively. That was how John saw himself: I am the one Jesus loves. That was who he said he was: I am the one Jesus loves. That was his passport, his calling card, his access to the Father: I am the one Jesus loves.
John had this incredible freedom to say I am the one Jesus loves. He was not embarrassed or shy about saying it. He was so secure in the knowledge that Jesus loved him that this was the driving force of his life; this was the anchor that kept him steadfast and strong; this was the identity that gave him security and hope. He was the one Jesus loved.
It’s a mystery to us how God can know each of us and love each of us uniquely. No person could ever make such a claim. But it is truth—and it is truth that can set us free, as we find our identity as the one Jesus loves.
Here’s my challenge to you. Every morning when you first wake up, let your first thought and your first words be this: I am the one Jesus loves. Look in the mirror as you first get up and tell yourself this truth: I am the one Jesus loves. Start your day with this thought, instead of starting your day with some kind of negative thought. Then throughout your day, whether things are going well or things are tough, repeat it to yourself at least ten times each day: I am the one Jesus loves.
Live in this truth like you’ve never done before. Drive out wrong thoughts with this thought: I am the one Jesus loves. If someone upsets you, disrespects you, or overlooks you, don’t dwell on those things. Instead just keep repeating, I am the one Jesus loves. I promise you, it will make a huge difference because it is truth—and it is truth that will set you free.