“For God so loved the world…” John 3:16
We are lovable. Created in God’s image and perfected by Jesus’ death we went from unworthy to worthy of His love and His affection. This love, that is “a reckless, raging fury*” refuses to be defined by our small understanding rooted in cuddling and compliments. The love God for us is fuel for life. It illuminates, examines, deepens, and fortifies. And, in my opinion, the most profound thing about it is that it’s transferable.
Jesus says of himself, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).” And of us He says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others… (Matthew 5:14, 16; emphasis mine).”
Shining our light may seem like an easy thing to do, it’s not hard to turn up the corners of our mouth and smile while quoting familiar passages like I just did. It’s rather simple to play the part of a born again believer, saved by grace, because “God so loved the world.” I can sit in a pew, be faithful to small group, talk about my faith to others, have a colorful passport, “speak the truth in love,” follow my calling, and “work as unto the Lord” yet still be hiding under a handmade basket of counterfeit, shameful, doubting, and fearful life. It’s living in a “I must protect myself and survive” mode instead of living as one who has already been rescued.
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us… at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:2a, 8).”
We are not an artificial light with a predetermined lifespan, but we are the eternal light of God filled with His love for the purpose of lighting the world. We have all been given hills where we are to shine, glorifying God with a love that is not like this world. A love that makes us receptors of grace that forgive and receive forgiveness. It reveals and extinguishes, pulls us close and sets us free. It inhabits us and through a careful and deliberate intrusion, never lets go. This love exposes our hiding places and burns away every moldy glimmer of a dappled life.
Love and light go together. We can’t have one without being the other. And we can’t give off one without recognizing that we are able to receive the other. We are the light because we are lovable. Nothing in this life that we have experienced is to define us to any greater extent than this truth, that we are lovable. Not until we believe in this love to the very core of our heart will we be able to come out from under the basket and feel the warmth of the light and the safety of the Maker of our hills.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:31-39, emphasis mine
*The Love of God, Mullins, Rich, Never Picture Perfect 1989