“We love because He first loved us.”
— 1 John 4:19
Fierce Love, Scandalous Grace
Learn today that the first step of our Christian life is not to work, or to do, or to strive, or even to love — but first to be loved. We have to first permit Him, our God, to love us. We have to, first of all, be stunned, moved, embraced, gripped by His passionate love. And when our souls are overwhelmed, yes, overpowered by His generosity, we cannot help but love the Lover with our all.
Unless we enshrine this truth at the center of our spirituality, all our Christian striving will be a frantic effort to gain His pleasure and acceptance. The fact is, even before we do anything good, we are already His chosen delight. By the mere fact that we exist, our crucified God has already embraced us in His wounds. For while we were still sinners, He died for us. Rather, let all our striving swell from a rush of intense gratitude for pure mercy.
Source: Embraced — Prayers that Nourish Your Soul
Many of us believe that to be loved and blessed by God, we must first be good Christians. We spend all our waking moments trying so hard to do good things, to love others, and to follow his Word. We try to reach out to our ‘unlovable’ officemates, even though all we ever want is to keep at least fifty meters away from them. We go crazy trying to look for old ladies who need help crossing the street. We’d even pump up our prayer lives by reading the Bible four hours a day and meditating on it for another four hours. If at the end of the day, we find ourselves falling short, we’re the first to castigate ourselves for our ‘failures’. We beat ourselves up, we go to confession, we cry out for mercy. Why? Because we thought we don’t deserve the grace of God if we’re ‘bad’ Christians. We believe that we have to ‘prove’ we’re good children before we gain His favor.
Here’s the big news… We don’t have to do anything to earn his love! Look at it this way—does a baby have to smile and say, “I love you, Mommy!” before his mother loves him? That’s crazy, right? That baby is created because of the love of his mother and father. That baby is the fruit of love. That baby is loved first, before he himself could even learn to love.
Friends, that’s how it goes with our own Heavenly Father. He loved us so much and so fiercely, that He gave us His only Son to ensure our place by His side in heaven. His blessings surround us and are free for our taking; we only ever have to open ourselves to them. When we learn to accept that truth—that grace is something freely and scandalously given—then we finally learn to love in return.
God’s love knows no conditions, no boundaries, and no limitations. We only have to first accept that love, and only then can we become the good Christians that we strive to be.
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