When I’d accepted Jesus into my heart, I’d allowed my driven personality and my wounds from the past to inform my faith, and I became a works-oriented Christian.
Somehow, though I’d been wooed by God’s unconditional love, once I was in His Kingdom, I was driven by performance, not by love. This, I was discovering, was contrary to what the gospel was all about. Jesus had come as an exact representation of the Father’s heart toward me. He had come because of love. He had come because He is love. The Holy Spirit showed me this reality in First John, where it says:
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them….We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:16, 19).
The Living Bible translates these verses a little differently:
We know how much God loves us because we have felt His love and because we believe Him when He tells us that He loves us dearly. God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him….So you see our love for Him comes as a result of His loving us first.
In other words, the first love is the love of God the Father for us. This revelation changed me. For years, I had known in my head that God loves me. But now, for the first time, I realized I could personally experience the love of my heavenly Father in my heart!
I did not have to perform to obtain His love; I already had access to His heart simply because He had given it to me. God had loved me first—before I knew His name, before I had done any good works for Him—and nothing I could do would change that.
This realization put the previous years of my life in Christ into a new light. Suddenly I realized I’d been striving and working hard for something I already had. No wonder I was exhausted and discontented. I had gotten it all backward, thinking I had to earn Father God’s love.
Instead, the truth was, He already loved me—eternally and unconditionally. Not only that, but His love in my heart was the catalyst that would help me love Him back. In this way, I would be able to truly and freely love and serve God—not out of duty or performance but because of love.
This is exactly what Jesus modeled in His life on earth. As a human, He experienced the Father’s love for Him, and that love enabled everything Jesus did. We, too, are made to experience God’s love in the same way that Jesus did, and as a result, to live as empowered sons and daughters of God.
This is an excerpt from my new book Loved Like Jesus.
I wrote it because I want you to experience the deep love that your heavenly Father has for you. Living from this reality as a much loved son or daughter, you can rest in a confident connection with Him and experience abundant living and lasting freedom.
Order my book today for yourself and an extra copy for a friend, your pastor and/or your small group.
Thanking Him for you,