January 14, 2019
In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Tim Almquist remembers a friend who suggested at a church youth gathering “that our first priority in following Jesus is not to love God.... Before we can truly love God or love our neighbor, our first step ... is to let ourselves be loved by God.”
How does that feel to you?
I first read Tim’s reflection in October, when we were proofreading the winter quarter of Fruit of the Vine, and I had to read through it several times. I knew that what Tim wrote is true, but I felt internal resistance to this line every time I read over it. I wondered why – what was it within me, exactly, that was having trouble with Tim’s words? Do you have trouble with these words? Or are they easy?
“Many of us attempt to order our loves and categorize our allegiances,” Tim continues. “We say things like: God first, family second, friends third.... By focusing only on pleasing God or meeting the needs of others without first embracing God’s love for ourselves, we ironically engage in a kind of self-worship. We believe we are the source of love, not God.”
I agree with Tim, but I knew this wasn’t why I was stuck. The reason I had trouble with Tim’s claim that “our first step ... is to let ourselves be loved” is because I wasn’t convinced I was lovable. But it was buried down deep enough that, at first, I couldn’t identify it as the source of the friction I was feeling.
I know that God loves me. But what does that mean? How does it feel? Do you feel loved by God?
Tim offers a reminder from 1 John that “our ability to love one another is made possible, not by our own efforts, but by God who first loved us and who, in the end, is love.” If we know what love is – if we love others – this, then, is proof that we are loved by God, no matter how we feel, because God is “the true, unending source of love.”
I hope you feel loved today,
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