“Does God love me?” It seems like a question with an obvious answer, but there will come times in life when we might doubt the answer. For so many, the answer is not a foregone conclusion. How can people understand God loving them when they don’t even know the love of a human father? A mother? Grandparents? Siblings? A spouse? A church? Or even a true friend? What is love anyway? Because many don’t know what real love is, they take the pieces of what has left them feeling good and weave those into something they believe might work. All too often, in the end it turns out to be another counterfeit. So many people go through life being let down again and again, and with time they learn to shut off their feelings altogether. Experience tells them that to be vulnerable to somebody else puts them at risk for hurt; hurt piled onto past hurts.
We all crave the need to belong. To fill the craving for acceptance, some may fall into the tyranny of peer pressure, changing and conforming to a group’s chosen values in order to feel like part of something. If taken far enough it can lead to joining a gang—whether it is a violent street gang or simply a gang of people on the Internet. Gangs can be a place where people seek to find some form of acceptance and identity, especially those who have been emotionally abandoned. Yet the feeling of family in a gang only goes up to a point. Often instead of an open minded, two-way, lay-down-your-life-for-your-friend love, it is only a counterfeit dependent on what the gang can get from you. Many gangs will take all it can get and leave nothing in its place.
For much of history, the world has been a very dark place. Superstition, false gods, false thought, lies, abuses of power, and brutality have been rampant. Apart from the light of Christ, there is no lasting hope, joy, peace, patience, love, or gentleness. If humanity rejects anything and everything to do with truth, God, and the true teachings of Jesus Christ, they switch off the Light.
Enter the Creator God!
How do we best help people who are poor, bereft, heartsick, emotionally assaulted, broken, beaten, empty or prone to dysfunctional behavior to fill voids in their lives? How can we help them see the tangible, solid, life-giving, joyous, peace-filled, energetic love of God?
What simple and practical things can we do to help people begin to take baby steps toward greater understanding of God’s love for them and, ultimately, toward God’s Kingdom? Our job is to show people the love of God and Jesus Christ through our example. We are to mirror to them and lovingly help others to see who God and Christ are
One of the ways people may come to better see and understand that God loves them is when they see it in our congregations. Do they sense His love when they see us together? We must never underestimate the power of our example, our actions, or our words. We may be the only picture of God they have ever had in their world and that picture is vital!
I believe people need to be gently and lovingly refreshed; we must include, invite and overwhelm them with patience. They need to be listened to. People need a safe place where they are wholly welcomed and completely supported as they grow. We must apply ourselves to offering them the fruit of the Spirit, that they may see the healing love of God. Those who are asking themselves, “Does God love me?” may not understand what seems so far away, so untouchable. It is part of our calling to help them see that the unequivocal answer—yes!
In my own life, when I asked myself the question, “Does God love me?,” another friend gave me some advice: Go to God in prayer and ask Him to show Himself to you. Don’t share that prayer with anyone else, so when the prayer is answered, you know that it is God’s direct answer. When I did that, He was very quick and very specific in answering my prayer. I call it my “Gideon moment.” That experience has served as a foundation for my faith, and impacts me to this day.
As we strive for growth, becoming more like Jesus Christ each day, we should be ready to show the unconditional love of God through our example to others. Who knows but that someone—maybe someone close to you who has been in the Church for many years—may see your example and more deeply feel that love of God.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).