Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Am My Beloved's

I have had, and even now have, people who do not like me. So have you. Such is life.

Recently I was driving in downtown Monroe. I was waiting at a stoplight. I was deep in thought, about something. The light turned green. I did not move. Until the driver behind laid on the horn. As he drove past me he gave me that "look." It was not the look of love. I knew it was not the look of love as he raised a finger towards me, shaking his head at me like he had just seen the world's biggest idiot.

There have been times when I have made choices that have caused people to be angry at me. In a sense, I deserved their anger. In some cases their anger turned into hatred. In a view instances I have experienced people who have not been willing to forgive me, but instead despise and reject me. And I have at times struggled with forgiving other people. I do not score an 'A' in loving my enemies.

Add to this that as followers of Jesus we stand for something. Therefore we will have opposition. Some will hate us. In history, and even today, there are some who have been crucified because they stood for Someone. Expect enemies.

I conclude that, in this life, I will not be universally likeable. I can't change that. But with God's help I can be changed. How can I love those who hate me? The answer is not: work hard to please people so they will like you. People-pleasing is not the solution. The one answer that makes sense to me is: I must live in the knowledge that I am loved by God, despite my failures. This is the Jesus-answer.

Henri Nouwen writes: "I very much believe that the core moment of Jesus' public life was the baptism in the Jordan, when Jesus heard the affirmation, 'You are my beloved on whom my favor rests.'" "That," writes Nouwen, "is the core experience of Jesus. He is reminded in a deep, deep way of who he is." (Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 67)

During my times of extended praying I am often reminded of that and how much God loves me. Meet regularly with God and expect to hear God tell you, "________, I love you." God doesn't say this because you're spending time with him. There are no conditions on the love of God. God loves you, and loves saying these words to you. Therefore place yourself, regularly, in a position to hear them. You will be reminded in a deep, deep way of who you truly are.

I am my beloved's and he is mine. Embrace this.