It’s Monday Grace!
St. Patrick is one of my personal heroes. From every angle of inspection, he lived as a sincere Christian. His story is one of personal struggle and faith.
According to his own testimony, he spent many lonely months with only pigs as company. Fortunate to be alive, he was mistreated by his master. He had nothing and no one. During that time, he reached out to the Lord. He says that he prayed hundreds of time a day. Eventually, he discovered that the Lord was real and present. He learned that he was not alone.
Love is a fundamental need for every person. Love connects us with others. Even a small connection is something. A smile at the check-out. A wave from the car. A kind word at the right time. These make us feel like someone cares, even if just a little. It doesn’t take a lot of love to lift us up.
I grieve when I think of those who walk alone in life. I grieve for those who feel alone even when surrounded by others. To be loved is so important. It makes life worth living.
There are times in life when people reject us. It hurts. In fact, it hurts so much that we are tempted to cut ourselves off from everyone. This “unlove” affects us so deeply that we usually don’t know how to respond to it. It can become an obsession to try to understand why it happened and how to avoid it in the future.
The old saying is that everybody needs to be somebody to somebody. We need love. We need connection. And it isn’t just need.
I want love!
I want to be connected, to know that someone cares about me. My value in life comes out of my relationships. I know myself as I connect with others. Without that connection, I feel like I have and I am nothing.
And, once more, it isn’t wrong to want what you are supposed to have. God has good gifts for us. Certainly His love is the greatest of them all. He wants us to have these gifts. He wants us to know that He loves us.
When I first went into ministry, I wanted to help people understand what the Lord expected of them. I studied and preached and taught. But the more I focused on what God wanted from us, the less I understood the real message of the Scriptures. I found that people became depressed and angry when the focus was on them.
When I discovered the one theme that ran through all of Scripture, the one unifying message God has for us, it not only set me free, but it brought that freedom to others. God loves us! From the beginning to the end, the Bible is all about that love. The one message God wants us to hear is how much He loves us. There is no other message.
Now, I have encountered many people who don’t like that last statement. They like the idea that God loves us, but they want to add a “but” to the end of the sentence. God loves us – but He is disappointed. God loves us – but He wants us to obey. God loves us – but we don’t deserve His love. God loves us – but we have to earn that love.
Listen: THERE IS NO “BUT” AFTER THE STATEMENT THAT GOD LOVES US!
We are loved. Even when we fail. Even when we don’t measure up. Even when we wander or forget or sin.
That love is the greatest message of all. It is the one that is most important. If you don’t get this one right, there is no reason to try for anything else. What good is obedience without love? What good is sacrifice without love? Why would I give my life for Jesus, either by dying or by living, unless I knew that He loved me?
It’s the love of God that makes all of this worth doing. Our God is not a capricious Lord. He loves us consistently, even though He knows us far more than we know ourselves. He does not love us on the basis of our performance, but from His own heart.
No, we are not alone. No, we are not disconnected. There is One who loves us. You and me. Just as we are.