“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.” (John 17:24)
Believers in Jesus are precious to God (we’re his bride!). And he loves us so much that he will not allow our preciousness to become our god.
God does indeed make much of us (adoption!), but he does so in a way that draws us out of ourselves to enjoy his greatness.
Test yourself. If Jesus came to spend the day with you, sat down beside you on the couch, and said, “I really love you,” what would you focus on the rest of the day that you spend together?
It seems to me that too many songs and sermons leave us with the wrong answer. They leave the impression that the heights of our joy would be in the recurrent feeling of being loved. “He loves me!” “He loves me!” This is joy indeed. But not the heights and not the focus.
What are we saying with the words “I am loved”? What do we mean? What is this “being loved”?
Would not the greatest, most Christ-exalting joy be found in watching Jesus all day and bursting with, “You’re amazing!” “You are amazing!”
- He answers the hardest question, and his wisdom is amazing.
- He touches a filthy, oozing sore, and his compassion is amazing.
- He raises a dead lady at the medical examiner’s office, and his power is amazing.
- He predicts the afternoon’s events, and his foreknowledge is amazing.
- He sleeps during an earthquake, and his fearlessness is amazing.
- He says, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” and his words are amazing.
We walk around with him utterly amazed at what we are seeing.
Is not his love for us his eagerness to do for us all he must do (including die for us) so that we can marvel at him and not be incinerated by him? Redemption, propitiation, forgiveness, justification, reconciliation — all these have to happen. They are the act of love.
But the goal of love that makes those acts loving is that we be with him and see his jaw-dropping glory and be astounded. In those moments we forget ourselves and see and feel him.
So I am urging pastors and teachers: Push people through the acts of Christ’s love to the goal of his love. If redemption and propitiation and forgiveness and justification and reconciliation are not taking us to the enjoyment of Jesus himself, they are not love.
Press on this. It’s what Jesus prayed for.