Living the Great Commission

This week’s Scriptures and devotional thoughts direct our attention on human beings’ greatest need, to know they are loved by God. Material in quotations is from Embracing the Love of God or Hidden in Christ, authored by James Bryan Smith.

Monday– Psalm 145.8-9. Theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar has written: “We are God’s creation, and the seed of love lies dormant within us as the image of God (imago Dei). But just as no child can be awakened to love without being loved, so too no human heart can come to an understanding of God without the free gift of his grace–in the image of his Son.” Pray for the grace of God to awaken your heart to a deeper awareness of his love.

Tuesday– Colossians 3.12. Paul uses the term “beloved” or “dearly loved” to describe our identity given to us by God, through Christ. “A seed of love is planted into each of our souls, a deep longing to be loved, but it can only be awakened by being deeply loved. Our deepest longing is to be loved by our Creator. If we knew we were loved, truly loved by God, as we are, our souls would be whole.” Pray for someone who has yet to “awaken” to the liberating reality of God’s love for them, and ask the Father to reflect his love to that person, through you.

Wednesday– John 3.13-17. “Very few people know that they are loved by God. We live in a world of competition, separation, isolation, performance, and reward. Most of us are taught from an early age that love must be merited by our behavior, and we project this onto God: ‘God loves only the good little girls and boys,’ as the saying goes. It is a narrative spun in the pit of hell, and the source of all human suffering. The cross of Jesus Christ shouts that we are loved–as we are, not as we should be.” Can you find a way, today, to celebrate the love of God?

Thursday– Luke 18.9-14. We need to become realists as to our condition without God. “The tax collector’s desperate sense of need and imperfection made instant contact with the source of all perfection…he had got the thing in proportion. We need not suppose he was a specially wicked man, but he knew he was an imperfect, dependent, and needy man, without any claims or rights. He was a realist. That opened a channel, and started a communion, between the rich God and the poor soul.” (Evelyn Underhill in An Anthology of the Love of God)

Friday– Matthew 9.10-13. “In order for us to accept God’s love for ourselves, and accept ourselves, we will have to acknowledge our true selves. We do not need to beat ourselves up, or call ourselves names, or excessively confess our sinfulness. All we have to do is be realistic. We are imperfect, highly dependent, with no claims or rights. We are sinners, and that is a good thing, considering Jesus said he’d come to save sinners. Pretending that we are righteous simply keeps God at bay and delays our healing.”

Saturday– Psalm 139.23-24. “It is the grace of the gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that confronts us with the truth and says: ‘You are a sinner, a great and desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to a God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work. He wants you alone.’ ” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together) Are you allowing him to have every part of you?