I’m writing this sitting at a bar in a diner. Next to me there is an older lady, drinking her coffee alone. She’s looking around, smiling gently at others, not desperate for conversation, but not avoiding it. She has nothing in her hands except her mug.
I, on the other hand, have a coffee, my phone, my kindle and my laptop all at my fingertips. All available. All ready to ease me out of any discomfort that might come from being here alone on Easter Sunday. What is it about us that is so uncomfortable at the thought of sitting, alone without distraction in a public setting. Fear of boredom? I think not. I think it’s fear of being uncomfortable, fear of embarrassment; shame.
Fear that if we slow down too much we’ll feel awkward in our own skin. We’re afraid of ourselves.
And then, in bursts today; to interrupt our shame. The day when the Lifter of Our Heads lifts our heads with a declaration, with evidence of His love.
All across this city people are raising their hands and celebrating the proof of the power of a God to keep His promises. We have met the only man who can say – I will never leave you – and actually keep His word. Not even death can take Him from us.
This message – this great salvation – it rushes toward us like a twig in a raging rapid, carried along by a stunning motivation: the love of God. It is His wanting, His desire for us that carries the branch down the stream. It is a flood of love that brings this salvation to us. For God so loved the world…
What a terrifying truth that is to embrace. What if it makes us too ‘man-centered’? What if people think we’re proud? What if we become proud? What if we misunderstand God’s glory? What if leads us to apathy about sin?
The love of God is deep and wide and real enough to make the bravest heart tremble. It is His glory. It leaves no room for control. No space for self consciousness. It will bank no reservations, tolerate no false modesty – at least not if we truly fear God. Because to fear God is to believe Him. It means that His wonderful whispers – loved, precious, honored, delighted – bear more weight than all the words in the world. No matter what anyone says, no matter what we ourselves say, those who fear God cannot quiet the throbbing aching pulsing knowledge of how truly precious and wanted and loved we are.
Know this – oh heart of mine – today is not about God making a way for you to be loved, it is about making a way for you to believe you are loved. You were loved first. You were loved before. Not loved because of Christ but Christ because of love.
You have been set free to believe in that great love.
You are loved. I hate typing it. It seems to cheapen it, lessen it. I’ve seen it on so many instagram images – our contemporary equivalent of embroidery. The love of God is not a tame thing. It isn’t cute or sweet. It’s so much bloodier, so much bolder, so much better than that.
You are loved.
You. Not just a generic Christ cookie-cutter version of you – with all your weakness amputated. You. Not just some future restored, perfected version of you. Not just the redeemed version of you, hidden in Christ. He loved you, wanted you while you hated Him. He loves the best and the worst version of you. He loves you in your greatest victory and deepest failure.
You know what today means? You are free to believe Him. You are free – wherever you are in your walk with Jesus – to embrace the reality that you are deeply wanted and loved, no matter what you did last night or this morning. You don’t have to wait to believe in that love. You don’t have to be ashamed of receiving it or banking on it. You don’t have to explain it or feel foolish about boasting in it. You don’t have to apologize to Him or anyone else that He loves you so absolutely without condition.
But what about obedience? What about sanctification?
Your justification – being declared holy – has a million conditions. Your sonship, your adoption, your right to be welcomed home by Him – these things have a million conditions. And He has met them all. In Christ, He has met them all for you. Because of His love.
His love has no conditions. It never did.
Don’t wait to believe in the love of God. Don’t think you need to fix whatever is broken first. Don’t wait until you feel on fire or until you conquer that sin. Just wrap it around you today. Just trust in it. Believe in it. Bank on it.
Never fear to fall into His love. Just as Easter proves, it leads only to life.