Loved by God the Father
'See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.'
1 John 3v1-3 (NIV)
We all long to feel valued, accepted and loved. It's the most basic of human desires. Yet finding it has become illusive! Instead of experiencing love, we spend our time trying to win others approval and earn their acceptance. It seems we can never do enough. Our culture responds by saying, 'Love yourself'. However putting ourselves first, only turns us into self centred, self absorbed people. Sadly and tragically, the more we use each other for selfish gain, the more unlovely we become. In our desperation, we end up more lonely and empty than ever before.
But there's another true story we can live by. We were created by God so that we might experience his love. Rather than search for love we are to stop and 'see what great love the Father has lavished on us.' True love is found in the one who made us and loves us.
First, I am loved by the Father. We are all loved by God in a general sense. We experience his gifts to us everyday; Family, Friendships, Arts, Sports - these are all good things in which we find pleasure and joy. Yet they all point to the giver of these gifts, the Father who loves us. It's only as we turn to the Father in repentance that we experience his love in a personal, eternal way. The 'love the Father has lavished on us' is not won or earned by us, it is unconditional. The Father loves us, not because of what I do, or what I am, or how I look, the Father loves us because he loves us. He chooses to 'lavish' us with love.
Second, I am adopted as his child. The love of God is not just 'great' as in the depth and reach of love, it is an active and creative love: 'See what great love the father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!' The love of the Father calls us to be children, not just in name, but into a relationship. God's purpose for creating us was so that we might enter into a Father giving, Child dependant relationship. Now for some, the image of 'Father' is one of hurt and painful memories. But the love of God the Father is pure, it has been demonstrated by giving up his life for us on the cross. It is a sacrificial love. As we entrust our lives to the Father we are adopted into his family. We can run to our Father, the creator of the universe, without fear or shame and talk to him as his loved and treasured child. Now, if you don't quite believe it: 'that is what we are!'
We don't find love in other things and other people, we experience the love of the Father as we 'see' his great love for us. As we reflect on his self-less, others- centred life, as we contemplate his sacrificial death for us, responding in repentance and faith we enjoy the privilege and gift of being God's own daughter or son.
Thank you Father for your love to us which is unconditional and demonstrated sacrificially by your Sons death for us. Thank you that it is pure and good, and that you never act with selfish ulterior motives. Help us to receive your love in faith and to turn from all other substitute loves.