"We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who FAITH FORWARD and are saved."
Hebrews 10:39


Today's Faith Forward Challenge

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Beloved of the Lord

"To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:  May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you" (Jude 1:1-2).

What a wonderful thing it is simply to be loved.  We all desire it.  We all wonder if we really deserve it or will ever find it.  Good news:  we are!  It is there for the taking or better, the receiving.  We are the beloved of the Lord.  Be-loved.  And the other good news?  What does it take to be loved?  Do we have to qualify or earn it or do something?  Not at all.  Simply, be loved.  When we allow ourselves to be loved, we are the be-loved!  And, as beloved children of God, we have so much right now already and still there is much more to come (see 1 John 3:2).

I'm not sure what you did over the Christmas holidays.  I trust that your time with family and friends was rich.  We had a really nice and quiet Christmas with our children.  And, we even had snow in Campbell River!  Thank you, God, for that wonderful gift.  And for the gift of your son that brought us everything that we enjoy!

One of the things that I did over the holidays was some reading.  One book that I read and I would recommend to everyone was a book by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman, entitled So You Don't Want to go to Church Anymore.  Don't let the title scare you.  It is a great book.  The gist of it is that the lead character, Jake, a pastor in a growing church, has a "chance" meeting with an enigmatic character named John that just appears out of the blue.  The back cover of the book says,

"What would you do if you met someone you thought just might be one of Jesus' original disciples still living in the twenty-first century?  That's Jake's dilemma as he meets a man who talks of Jesus as if he had known him, and whose way of living challenges everything Jake had previously known."

"So You Don't Want to go to Church Anymore is Jake's compelling journal that chronicles thirteen conversations with his newfound friend over a four-year period and how those exchanges turn Jake's world upside down.  With this stranger's help, Jake faces his darkest fears, struggles through brutal circumstances, and comes out on the other side in the joy and freedom he always dreamed was possible."

Jake wonders if this John could be the John who Jesus said might never die until he returned (see John 21:23).  This is the same disciple that was referred to as "the beloved disciple," and the same apostle whose letters and epistle are filled with references to the love of God for us.  What do you think his recurring message to this struggling pastor was:  you guessed it, his theme, the love of God for you and me.  We like him, are the beloved but we have to allow ourselves to be-loved!

I couldn't help but think, what does it take to be loved, to be beloved?  Nothing other than to be.  God loves you and me in the extreme.  Always has and always will.  And nothing that you or I could ever do or not do could change that love in any respect.  The only thing that we can do is choose not to receive his love.  It will not change the fact that we are beloved but we will not enjoy everything that that love came to bring us and can do for us.

So, my message today is simple.  Be loved.  Yes, Lord, love me fully and completely.  Today.  Right now.  I open myself to receive all of your love for me.  Do you ever wonder why Paul had to pray for the Ephesians, that they would "grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:18-19)?  It was because it is possible to miss it, to not receive it, to not grasp it with our understanding or in our reality.  I pray that we would today.  Grasp it.  Know it.  Receive it.  Be beloved today and each day from here on in.

"To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:  May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you" (Jude 1:1-2).