Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Many of us have sung these words since we were the tiniest of children. It is a message that has been instilled in my heart from the beginning. Jesus loves me. Even in the midst of my sin, God chose to send His Son to die in my place that I might be saved.
This is an important message to instill into our hearts because we are not perfect and we often need to be reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38). He loves us in spite of our failings. He calls us to come to Him just as we are. His love can wash over all our sins.
The Good News
And even though this can be a hard concept to grasp, most of us cling to this truth. Jesus loves me. I am safe, I am loved, I am protected, because the God of all creation loves me, just as I am. This is the essence of the Gospel. This is the Good News.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NLT
God loved the world, the whole world. Not just me, not just you, but all the big, bad, ugly world. Sometimes I feel like our focus on God’s love for us individually causes us to lose sight of the fact that God’s love extends to every single person who has ever walked the face of this planet.
God loves everyone
Every human, from the worst to the greatest, was made in the image of God. He loves every single one of us. There is not a single exception. Mass murderers, rapists, terrorists. Still made in the image of God. Beloved and longed for just as much as Mother Theresa or King David in the Bible. God’s love extends to all, no matter what.
Let me be clear, love doesn’t approve of evil. Love doesn’t condone sin or injustice. But “love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” “Love is patient and kind…It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
If we believe that God chose to love us and send His Son to die for us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8) we also must believe and accept that God loves the worst of the worst while they are still sinners. His gift of love is offered and available to all. Jesus saw the most atrocious sins that would ever be committed and still chose to die so that those sins could be forgiven.
Being made right with God vs. Being loved by God
Now, forgiveness and redemption come at a cost. The cost of believing. We actually have to accept the love of God and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us in order to be called children of God and forgiven of our sins. Sinners aren’t simply forgiven because Jesus died. “People are made right with God (forgiven) when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” (Romans 3: 25)
But God’s love? The opportunity to believe and receive God’s forgiveness? That is available to all. He loves every single person, without exception.
Love one another
And God calls us to love others with this same kind of radical love. His call to love others doesn’t just include the other moms in your small group. It’s not just your family and those friendly neighbors who baked you a pie. God calls us to truly and actually love everyone just as He does. How differently would we show up in our lives to the people we interact with if we truly understood that everyone was dearly loved by God?
That guy who cut you off driving down the road? God desperately loves him. The drug addict on the street corner asking for handouts? God is passionately in love with her. The rapist who murdered kids in the park? God loves him so much that He sent His only Son to die for him.
This is important because love is always the answer, not hate. Hate never solved a problem, healed a wound, or repaired a broken heart or relationship. Even in the face of the world’s greatest, most atrocious evils, the solution for people is and will forever always be – love.
I know, it’s not a popular thing to talk about. And I’m sure you’re thinking of so many objections about how terrible these people are. I’m not condoning sin. But love is greater than sin, always. And God’s love for people doesn’t ever stop because of sin.
What about sin and judgment?
So what about sin? What about the terrible things these people have done? God is a God of justice. He does promise that there will be a day of judgment when all things will be made right. “He will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil.” (Romans 2:8-9)
But judgment is not our responsibility and the judgment day has not yet arrived. Our job is simply to love. To let love be our anthem and our answer. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. And equally important, to love our neighbor (the good ones and the bad ones) as ourselves (Matthew 22: 37-40). To love our enemies. To do good to those who hate us and to bless those who curse us and pray for those who hurt us. (Luke 6:27-28).
When you see someone you wish to hate, someone who makes your anger boil inside of you, someone who you think “deserves what’s coming to them,” pause and remember, Jesus loves them this I know, for the Bible tells me so. And if Jesus loves them, we should too.
Love, worth, and value
You are loved and valued and worthy exactly as you are. There is nothing that can ever separate you from God’s perfect love. You have been accepted and Jesus has died for you, no matter what.
But never for a moment forget that every single other person is also loved and valued and worthy exactly as you are. There is nothing that can ever separate them from God’s perfect love. They have been accepted and Jesus has died for them, no matter what.
So let’s stop judging the worth and the value of the people we come in contact with. Let’s stop treating others as their actions deserve and choose radical love instead. Let’s forgive even when it’s undeserved. Let’s be patient and kind even with the rudest offenders. Let us not be jealous or boastful or proud or rude, for we are all equally valuable, equally loved, and equally worthy. Let us not demand our own way, but give generously and compassionately, even when we think it’s undeserved.
Love never fails.
Today’s Action Step
Before reacting to any situation today, take a moment to remember the love of God and the value of every person. Respond only from a place of love. Ask God for help in this, we will need it.