by Karen Blanchard
CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MI – I grew up in Florida and to this day my favorite place is still the beach. Looking out at the ocean always mesmerizes me! I get lost in the vastness of how wide and long the ocean seems as I gaze at it from the shore. As I think about how great the ocean is, the following verses from Ephesians come to mind.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17a-19
These verses are powerful! I think sometimes we know in our head that God loves us, but our hearts have a difficult time grasping the fullness of God’s love. I have been on a journey this year learning about what it means to be God’s beloved. Beloved simply means “to be loved by God.”
Recently I was reading a book where the author compared two of the disciples: Peter and John.
The fascinating thing about John is that he never refers to himself as “John” in the entire book of John. He wrote the book in third person and five times he calls himself “the one whom Jesus loved.”
There are a couple of other times where someone was identified as “the other disciple” and scholars believe this to have been John as well. To be honest, at first glance when I think of “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” I begin to think that John was a little more special than the other disciples; that he was Jesus’ favorite. That is far from being true! Jesus loved all the disciples the same -- the same way he loves you and me. It seems that John wanted his identity to be “the one whom Jesus loved” as an act of humility and surrender of his old self.
Peter, on the other hand, instead of accepting Jesus’ love for him, often tried to prove his love for Jesus in what he said or what he did. One way we see Peter trying to prove himself was when he called out to Jesus to let him walk on water. Peter needed proof because his faith was weak. We see this striving for love in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested, and Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. Peter took matters into his own hands by thinking the situation depended on him to do something instead of trusting that God was in control.
The following verses are all ways that Peter tried to prove his love in what he said:
Peter says in Matthew 19:27, “We have left everything to follow you.”
Mark 14:29, he said, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
In John 13:37 Peter says, “I will lay down my life for you.”
When the time came for Peter’s words to be tested, the Scripture tells us he denied Jesus three times. It took Peter longer to realize his identity was not in what he did for Jesus, but in what Jesus did for him. John, on the other hand, came to a quicker understanding of his identity in Christ and therefore was able to live his life knowing he was loved by Jesus.
What about you? Do you tend to strive to prove your love for God because you think he expects you to do many things for him?
I love this letter entitled “My Beloved Child” written by Deb Worley. This letter is powerful because it was written as if God himself were saying these words over you. Below is a portion of the letter that is my favorite:
I love you, my dear child because I created you.
I love you precious one, because there is no one else like you.
I love you, Beloved, simply because you exist-
because that is what Love does and Love is who I am.
I love you, now forever and always,
and there is nothing you can do to change that.
There is nothing you can do to make me love you any more,
and there is nothing you can do to make me love you any less.
I. love. you.
Beloved, God loves you.
Even if you never do another thing for him.
He loves you simply because you exist.
It is time for you to see yourself as God’s beloved.
When we operate out of our belovedness in Christ, we can live in the fullness of God’s love doing what we know God has called us to do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen is married to Scott Blanchard, pastor of Lakepointe Church, and moved from Florida to Michigan in the summer of 2009 to plant Lakepointe Church in Shelby Township. She enjoys mentoring and discipling women and also leads women’s life groups through her church. She is passionate about helping women find their purpose in who God created them to be. She is on staff at Lakepointe Church and loves being part of what God is doing in the Metro Detroit area!