No Matter What, You Are Loved by God

Yesterday morning my four year old John scooted our bench over to the kitchen countertop so he could stand on it. He wanted to spread his own peanut butter on his toast, which happened to be a first.

“I’m going to make Daddy’s for him too. He will love me for it and give me a kiss on the cheek!”

I thought how sweet that was for him to do and I figured I’d turn his little comment into a teaching opportunity.

“Well John, did you know that you don’t have to do anything to make Daddy love you more? He loves you just for you, no matter what,” I replied.

“Oh,” he said thinking about it.

He continued spreading in between the crust and topped it off with some banana slices and honey, just the way Daddy likes his peanut butter toast.

Then I could only naturally think about God’s love for us.

God loved us while we were still sinners and loves all sinners presently. He doesn’t need us to prove anything to him. And contrary to popular opinion, there is nothing we can do to earn his love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

I admit that at times I have a hard time accepting these truths about His love. Sometimes I feel that if I’ve screwed up and failed to be the person God has called me to be, that my behavior changes God’s view of me.

Or sometimes I feel I have to “do” more: read more of my Bible, pray more, do more ministry,  go to church more, walk in the Spirit more, give more… you get the point. Those are all blessings and necessities that come with following Christ- not a checklist or legalistic duty. God uses all those means as gifts and tools to help me love him more and know him more fully. But they don’t for one second change the way He loves me.

The truth that God’s love is a gift of undeserving grace is mind boggling and so incredibly freeing. It’s like the image of grace you’ve probably sung about in David Crowder’s, “How He Loves” song:

And we are His portion and He is our prize,  Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,  If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. 

I don’t know about you but in 2013, I want to know His love more deeply because I haven’t even swam close to the deep end when it comes to understanding his unending grace, love, and redemption. There is so much more my heart has yet to be filled with. And as I get more situated in to this new year, I’m excited about the new truths God has yet to reveal.

Well John got to enjoy his toast with his Daddy and heard words of gratitude for his hard work. Even though later in the day John disobeyed, fought with his sister, and had a few fits, Daddy corrected him and disciplined him and showed him love.

And even as a young child, I think John is able to understand that he’s still loved no matter what he does.

On Loving People for Who They Are: Meet Danny

Danny bags groceries at the Kroger we shop at every week. He’s in his 30s and has a disability where he speaks and walks slowly. A few months ago I decided that I wanted to help show my two-year-old John that people like Danny are to be acknowledged and treated just like anyone else, no matter if they look or act differently.

So, I would whisper into John’s little ear: “Can you say hi to Danny, John?”

“Hi, Danny!” he would say and Danny would smile.

One day we had two carts of groceries to haul out and John told me he wanted Danny to push the cart he was sitting in. Not Momma. It was precious. Danny took the cart and John was absolutely delighted.

Yesterday, as soon as we got to Kroger, John asked where Danny was and I thought to myself:

John gets it

I realize the innocence in John’s heart. He sees the world in a lens that my tainted eyes do not see. He is a child and doesn’t fully understand the differences in people, but I believe he comprehends more than I think. He has a unique sensitivity towards Danny that is convicting.

The truth is that “Danny’s” are everywhere. God has been really impressing upon my heart to be intentional about loving people who are different than me and who I wouldn’t naturally start up a conversation with or even hang out with. He is teaching me about compassion and mercy.

People, no matter their race, differences, or disabilities deserve to be loved because they are created in the image of God. And as a Christian, I’ve been called to love all people, especially the unlovable.

I have to admit that I struggle at times with elevating myself or judging someone based on external appearances. And I know that it’s not only shallow, but it’s sinful. I’ve been moved by the verse:

How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. – Luke 6:42

This verse has not only challenged me when it comes to watching my judgmental thoughts towards people, but it has shown me that I have my own set of issues, habits, quirks, inconsistencies, disabilities and more. They might not be so obvious, but they still exist. Most of all, I’m learning about my own brokenness and God’s perfection.

Through a process, and I mean process, God is helping me to get the big, fat plank out of my own eye. Did I mention it’s big? He’s continuing to use people like Danny to teach me some big truths about the meaning of love.

The innocence and purity I get to see in John’s heart is what I need desperately and I’m willing to let God really mess with me so that I’ll truly love people for who they are. Plain and simple.

Has anyone stumbled upon your path that you need to love unconditionally? Do you have a “Danny” story?

* Name changed to Danny to protect privacy

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