Today marks the beginning of the biggest week in the life of the church. Palm Sunday. The day that Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final period of his life leading up to Easter. When I visited Israel last year, we walked down the same path Jesus would have walked on that journey. Down a hill with a beautiful view of the gates of Jerusalem. It’s the beginning of the week that symbolizes the fulfillment of scripture, and brings to mind the verse, “For God so loved the world.” The verse continues with “that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (don’t get lost in the details if I don’t have that 100% right. It’s from my sleep hazy, coffee fueled mind – but you get the point).
For God so loved the world. I found myself getting stuck right there yesterday. It rolled around in my mind while I meditated. We’ve heard it said over and over, but I think we lose the essence of it. It gets watered down, or we focus only that later part of the verse. Don’t get me wrong, that part is critically important, I believe it and find peace in it. But God so loved the world.
Loved the world. That means every single one of us. He loved us. That means me, that means you.
During my meditation as I listened for the still, small voice, I sensed the deep meaning of God loving us. It’s more than we could ever fathom. It’s as we are, in the moment, each day. He formed us in our mother’s womb. To me that means He knew what was coming next. He knew how we’d turn out. Me, with my birth defect and later amputation – check – knew it was coming. He knew our wiring, it’s how we were made to be. From the beginning. And He loved us.
As those thoughts rolled around in my head, I felt that still small voice telling me, “now you’re getting it.” And I listened. Knowing that the love is for all of us. Without exception.
What if we believed it? Those of us who feel unlovable. Who feel like we need to be someone different that who we are to be loved. Who engage a practice of holding off loving ourselves until we reach some magical state. The right weight, a level of success, a point in our relationships where we have it “just right.” We don’t allow ourselves to feel love that is freely available to us because we condition that love. We listen to other voices telling us there is something else to it. Something else to that acceptance.
If you truly believed that love what would you do differently? Knowing that you are loved beyond measure – a concept which our minds lack the ability to truly comprehend. But even if you do, just a little, it’s a game changer.
The message that God so loves the world gets lost in a puzzle of rules or conditions, but the message is simple. Let it sit in your heart. God loves you. Feel it in your heart. Now…share that love with others.