My niece will graduate from high school this week. The past week has been full of programs, banquets, awards, small-town senior traditions, and celebrations of our sweet girl. She is a precious gift. She gave a speech last week and quoted her mom (my sister) as saying, “I will never love you more or less.” What an incredible statement of unconditional love patterned after the love God has for us, his children!
Before we even came to exist, God knew who we would be. We are all made in his image. Regardless of our path, he could never love us more or less. He delights in his children, and he knows us intimately, even when we want to hide. He collects our tears. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He gives us strength when we are weary. He provides for us in every way. He sustains us. He encourages us. He restores us. He shepherds us. He meets us with new mercies every day. His love for us is immeasurable and will never run out. His grace for us knows no end. Every bit of the way God chooses to love us is unconditional and beyond comprehension, even if:
- we look different
- we fail him
- we don’t choose him
- we run to the wrong things, surrounded by the wrong people, mixed up in the world
He will never us more or less.
I matter because I am a child of God, and he feels the same about every person on the planet. So why does this not translate to us? Why do we put conditions on our love for each other? Why don’t we love as God commands?
Love all, worship one. This is the outcry of my soul. I gave my life to Jesus a long time ago, and I surrendered to an ever-evolving mission of loving people (mostly kids of all ages in the school system) while I was in college. Over the years, I have truly witnessed some of the greatest moments and most incompressible moments. Walking through life with people is such a privilege. I get to be there to celebrate the amazing times, but I also get to be there for them when nothing is right, when it seems the walls are crashing in, when it feels like no one cares, when they feel that they just don’t matter.
There is so much brokenness in this world, and people are desperate to feel whole, to be noticed, to be loved.
Love God. Love others. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 22 that these are the rules that we live by. If we claim to have a relationship with God but can’t follow either of these commands, it’s time to re-examine who we love, surrendered, and gave our lives to.
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
— 1 John 4:7–10 MSG
While pondering my response to Sunday and what to write, the chorus to a Joy Williams song has continually played in my head. I truly hope these words resound on my heart.
Do they see Jesus in me
Do they recognize your face
Do I communicate your love
And your grace
Do I reflect who you are
In the way I choose to be
Do they see Jesus in me
— Joy Williams