There’s a much-repeated story concerning the theologian Karl Barth. At a question and answer session at the end of a lecture at an American university in 1962, he is reported to have been asked if he could summarise his whole life’s work in theology in a single sentence. His answer was something to the effect, “Yes I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee. ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”
Over the years, when I have had opportunity to minister to others, I have often spoken words of affirmation to those struggling to receive the love of God for themselves. I have told them that they are precious and honoured in their Heavenly Father’s eyes, that they are unique and loved unconditionally by Him. Sometimes those words have penetrated the walls of pain and rejection, other times they seem to have bounced off and fallen to the ground.
In a daily devotional I have been using for a number of years, the author describes a practice, probably long extinct, of young girls in love, pulling petals one by one off a daisy, saying with each petal removed, ‘He loves me’ or ‘He loves me not’. The final petal removed would be a sign of whether her love would be reciprocated. The author wasn’t affirming what was almost a form of divination, but he was comparing it to the way we as Christians can view the love of God. ‘I had a great quiet time this morning and things are going well for me today – God loves me. I have just had terrible news – God loves me not.’
The point being made by the author was simply that God’s love for us isn’t rooted in our feelings or how well our lives are going, but in the truth of His word, and the demonstration of that love in sending Jesus to die as a sacrifice for each of us on the cross. The implication is that receiving God’s love is not based on an experience, but on our choice to believe His word.
If we rely on having an ‘experience’ of God’s love, we will be tossed around in the storms and circumstances of life. If our faith and trust is a response to the fact and truth of His demonstration of love in the cross of Jesus, then we have an anchor which will hold our souls secure and will also open the door for us to experience that love emotionally.
‘We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love’
(Priscilla Jane Owens)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I choose to believe Your demonstration of love for me in dying on the cross to take away my sins. Thank You for loving me so much. Please flood my heart more and more with the knowledge of Your love by Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
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