Does God really love me?
Do you ever wonder whether God really loves you?
Despite the fact that I’ve been a Christian for over 40 years, there are STILL times when I wonder if God really does love me.
Saying that ‘God loves me’ is Christianity 101. If there ever was to be a ‘Ladybird Book of Christian Living’ it would be right there on the first page...
But here’s the thing – and I’d wager that I’m not alone here It’s one thing to have head knowledge that God loves me. Because I read it in a book, heard it in a sermon, sang about it in a hymns, or even in the Bible. It’s something else altogether to believe it so deeply and powerfully that it utterly transforms every aspect of my life.
The first type of knowledge – head knowledge – is never lacking on my part. I know my theology pretty well! If you were to ask me if God loves me, I’d say, “Yes, of course!”. As the old hymn says ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’...
But when it comes to actually experiencing the reality that God loves me – that’s sometimes something else.
Now I don’t generally suggest that we elevate feelings and experiences over the rock-solid truth of God’s word, but I do think it’s important that I both know AND experience God’s love.
Let me explain that by reference to a real world example. I can stand up and say ‘I love my wife’. But my wife needs not only to hear that said - but also to experience my love. Otherwise it’s just words isn’t it? I believe that God wants me to know and experience the staggering, glorious, abundant, extravagant life-giving reality that God loves ME.
To be clear. Not just that he loves the world – but loves ME
Is there really any way we can know that He loves us? How can we have that certainty?
In the end, there is one solid fact on which you can rest your faith.
By looking at the cross you can be assured that God loves you - regardless of your current feeling.
NOTHING can erase the fact that He displayed His eternal love for you on the cross. The cross is God's ultimate expression of His love for you.
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15.13. That is exactly what Jesus did. He willingly laid down His life for you.
So be fully convinced of His love for you today. Not because I feel like God loves me – but because the cross demonstrates it.
But you might say, ‘What if I’ve done really bad things in the past. Does God still love me?
Yes, of course. Everything we’ve said so far still applies.
If we want a biblical example of someone who really, really messed up and was still beloved of God then we need look no further than David. In the Bible, the story of David is one of the best examples of someone who blew it big time and then not only got his life right with God, but went on to have a huge ministry
David loved the Lord God, yet in a weak moment he ended up in a relationship with Bathsheba. And then tried to cover it up by arranging for her husband to be bumped off.
Later, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan and forced to confront his sin. Psalm 51 gives us a snapshot of what’s going on inside of David’s heart as he begins to recognise what he’d done and tries to find a path through it
Here are THREE STEPS that David took to get right with God. And – by extension – the steps that we can all take when we ask ‘Does God still love me?’
Step 1: ASK FOR FORGIVENESS.
We might think we can conceal things from God. We cannot. He sees all. There is little point in going through life imagining that God doesn’t see deep into our hearts. Notice that David doesn’t try to negotiate a deal with God or minimize his sin. He says,
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)
David recognises that he needs to be open and honest with God. Are we?
Step 2: ADMIT RESPONSIBILITY
We need to own our part in our mistake and also its consequences.
“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (v. 3-5)
Our natural tendency is towards self-justification – perhaps blaming others. David could have tried that same tactic. ‘It was Bathsheba’s fault for flaunting herself’. Or ‘It was Uriah’s fault for going off to war and leaving his wife at home’. A better path is simply to say ‘I messed up’.
Step 3: ACCEPT GOD’S FORGIVENESS
Like David, once we confess that we messed up and tell God we want a new relationship with Him, at that very moment we receive His grace and forgiveness. But in order to experience God’s forgiveness, we first need to believe that we ARE forgiven.
This is where a lot of Christians fall down – we simply don’t believe that God really forgives. We don’t feel loved because we don’t feel forgiven.
The truth is that God has already done everything to deal with your sin, even before you sinned And it all happened one Friday afternoon in Palestine on a hill called Golgotha
We’re back again at the cross – and quite rightly so
The cross really was sufficient for anything that any of us could ever do. There’s nothing in your past that hasn’t already been covered by Jesus’ blood
Have you ever seen this quote
There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.’
It’s from Philip Yancey in his book ‘What’s so amazing about grace?’ You see it around on the Internet, almost to the point where it’s become a bit cliché.
But actually it makes a powerful truth
There really is nothing any of us can do to make God love us more. This means that we don’t have to spend our lives somehow trying to make God love us. He already loves us with absolutely everything he’s got – because God IS love. He doesn’t love us grudgingly – he loves us because it’s His nature to love.
At the same time there’s nothing we can do, might do in the future or have done in the past that will make God love us less. He already done what was necessary – on the cross – to deal with everything that might potentially have made Him not love us!
Isn’t that good news?