As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’ve come to the conclusion that the love of God is the most powerful thing/force/substance/experience in the universe.
So how is it possible that telling someone that Jesus loves them bounces off of them meaninglessly? I know the older answers to this question: the devil has deceived them, they’re blinded by blah blah blah blah blah blah…
I’m not a fan of all the theories I grew up with to explain this. I’m not a fan of them because they put the blame on exterior forces which we’re unable to control. i.e. The solution is to pray harder or try harder or be better, etc.
These things all sound like a God relationship based in slavery and not sonship. Galatians 4 talks a bit about the difference between being born of a slave mother and being born of a promise.
So, in my opinion, the reason people don’t react to being told God/Jesus loves them is that our culture (in churches too) has trained everybody to carefully maintain a projection of themselves for others to see in public. We’re to go around putting on our mask each morning and when other people compliment us it typically is a compliment of our projection being on point.
The trouble with this model is that when you’re years into a community and you’ve learned that the way to be loved is to carefully maintain your immaculate facade while hiding your vulnerable reality, you begin to believe that the real you isn’t worthy of love and in order to be loved you must perform. This path leads to burn out and devastation. It comes from a brand of life birthed from a slave mother. The way slaves interact with the master of the house is different than the way sons do.
The only way out of slavery is exodus. Divine intervention. A revelation of sonship.
The only way to have a revelation of sonship is to allow God to speak to us about who He is and who He says we are. Head knowledge is only good for debate. Academically learning all the things that were written about the way He loves isn’t going to transform your heart. Ephesians 3 contains an invitation into genuinely experiencing (encountering) the full measure of the love of Jesus. We tend to build theologies around our experiences so when we don’t experience the full measure, we academically create reasons why instead of contending for the more. Because of God’s relentless, reckless pursuit of us in Jesus; His absolute victory over the separation of God and man, we are invited and allowed into the experience of the full measure of His love. It was always meant to be experienced. He always meant Himself to be encountered.
One of the first things that happens when you begin to encounter Him is you find out that you are seen. I’ve had this tendency to relate to God as if He couldn’t see past my projection. People would say God loves me and I’d think to myself, “You’re reacting to my projection.” My understanding, my model of God saw Him as disappointed and unimpressed and disinterested in anything but successful performance. Nothing anyone could tell me was going to change that.
Being told I was loved meant nothing to me. But when I encountered God and He showed me that I’m seen and known AND loved, that began to transform me from the inside.
So, while the phrase, “Jesus loves you”, is true for everyone on the earth, it’s a message that pretty much everyone has heard and misunderstood.
The more pertinent information perhaps is that you are seen. You are known. He is intimately interested and invested in every aspect of your life. He cares about all the stupid little things you care about. He thinks they’re perfectly reasonable. He made you as you are on purpose, with purpose. He completely knows exactly what you are like and is exceedingly overjoyed to watch you be alive. He is not disappointed in you. He is not judging you. He went to extravagant lengths to be able to have you experience His goodness. He wanted you. He wants you.
This is why the gift of prophecy is so important within the body of Christ and without. It demonstrates that you are seen. And known.
So, my answer to the whole, “Jesus loves you”, thing being meaningless to our friends who haven’t met Jesus yet (or think they have but it’s actually the other guy in a poorly made mask), is a two parter:
1. We need to allow ourselves to let God speak to us about who He really is and who He thinks we are. (We need a revelation of sonship)
2. We need to operate in sonship and show people that they are seen, known AND loved.
We don’t need more people walking around who are super impressed with their knowledge base about God. Nobody in the street wants to be like those guys. We need people who have encountered His love and have become exorbitantly contagious. Infinite goodness is attractive. Like gravity.
Let’s quote the front page of the BSSM website.
We owe the world an encounter with God.