Monday, March 2, 2015

His Great and Perfect Love

I was in the middle of preaching a sermon when it washed over me like a flood and almost made me stop in the middle of my words. It was a truth that I had been searching for without knowing that I had lost it. It was a truth that I was desperately trying to teach the students when all the while God was trying to teach it to me, trying to embed it in my heart so that I would truly understand. It was a moment of clarity that I can only pray some of the students had as well. It was for me, a moment of beauty. 

What I was preaching on was love (I love love!).

The point was this: These kids, like many teenagers (and adults), are continually looking for perfect love in each other and the results are detrimental. We have at least five teenagers who are pregnant, countless who are left feeling worthless or heartbroken, and so many others who are moving from guy to guy or girl to girl searching for something that they will never be able to find in each other.

So I began telling them where they could find it. I began to give them Scripture after Scripture that described God's love. We talked about how His love never changes, how it is always forgiving, and how it is always without fear of rejection. We read that God IS love, the creator of love, the embodiment of love, and on and on. It was perhaps my favorite sermon to ever have preached because it was full of so much hope and goodness and truth.

And then I landed in 1 John. And the verses were beautiful. Here, take a moment, read them too. You will be glad you did:

7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love

It was on verse 9-10 that the wave of truth came for me:  

9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Not that we loved him but that He loved us. Gosh. It just hits my heart again as I think about it. God didn't choose to love us because we deserved it, or because we would eventually be good. He let His only son die because He simply loved us enough to give us LIFE. Doesn't that make you shiver a little bit!? If it doesn't, like I told the students, then you don't get it! Go back and read it again! He loves us without condition. He loves us simply because it is His joy and delight. We are loved perfectly by the One who knows us, truly knows us. Doesn't that just make your heart feel overwhelmed? It does mine! 

Goodness it was amazing to be as blessed by the message God was giving through me as I hoped some of the kids were. It was amazing to be standing up there preaching to myself as much as to my audience. What an easy challenge to rely not on the imperfect love of others, but on the all-satisfying, all-perfecting love of our Savior. We are loved that much guys. Isn't it fantastic? For me that moment of clarity was also a moment of gratitude, and as the night went on I couldn't help but smile because I finally knew.

I finally knew how much He loves me. 

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