I've been in a rather unusual pattern of Bible reading lately. I read straight through Jeremiah and then Obadiah. After those, I moved to Revelation. I just finished - a quick, non-analytical read, to get a new sense of the larger picture and flow of events. And, of course, to better understand what happens at the end of the story. It's a fascinating read, and I recommend it to you.
Now, I'm starting John's gospel. I figure as long as I'm in the neighborhood, I might as well spend some more time with John. I've read all his stuff before, several times, but an occasional refresher is a good thing. Like coming back to see an old friend.
Before I began the text, I was reading the introduction, which mentions that John never identifies himself directly as either writing the book or even being in it. He uses the phrase, "the disciple whom Jesus loved."
What a way to understand one's world. It's like John knew that everything necessary to understand him and his place in life was wrapped up in that one fact: Jesus loved him. In that he found his life's purpose, his identity, and his motivation. And in that, we more readily understand him, as well.
I have long asserted that Jesus loves me. Perhaps you have as well. More than that, I am convinced that Jesus even likes me. We're friends.
But what does that mean in my daily life? How does it play out in my thoughts and actions every day? It's one thing to say, another to live.
It's also one thing to say God loves me, and quite another to say - honestly - I love him.
As a boy, I once heard a preacher lecture the congregation, especially the men: "If you guys loved your wives the way you love God, you would all be long divorced." He makes an interesting point. Do I treat the God I profess to love differently than the people in my life whom I also profess to love?
But a different matter is considering the opposite direction: What are the implications in my daily life of God loving me? And even more, the implications of God liking me? If Jesus calls us his friends and the Father says he delights in chatting with us - and both of these are true - should that make a difference in the way I live?
I'm not going to try to answer my own question here, at least, not now. But I will say that love, as the Bible uses it, has little to do with feelings and a great deal to do with action. Jesus loves me and acts into my situations and life. I, in turn, love him and act toward others in a manner similar to he way he loves me. Actions.
If you can say, yes, God loves me, and not be compelled to action, you simply don't understand.