Believe it or not, Jesus loves you

Original post: March 28, 2008; update: January 28, 2010. Always a good reminder.

The late, great Rich Mullins told a story of when he was struggling in his faith, and someone said to him, “Jesus loves you.” His response: “Big deal. Jesus loves everyone.”

Sometimes, I feel like that; sometimes I feel like God’s love is so indiscriminate that it isn’t worth anything. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much I’ve heard that Jesus loves me, or that the Bible says so, it just doesn’t help with life’s difficulties and tensions, with the struggles I’m facing or the emotional turmoil I’m going through. Sometimes, I feel, love just ain’t enough.

But on most days, I’m able to live in the knowledge and understanding that God’s love is so expansive—so high and wide and deep and true—that somehow, even though he loves everyone, it’s as full as it can be for everyone.

Human love is limited; it’s finite. We only have so much time and energy to spend with people; we are only able to spread ourselves so thin, and even our greatest commitment is often not enough. God’s love doesn’t have such limitations: his love is wide and deep. He can and does love everyone, and he does so fully. Which can be hard for our human minds to comprehend.

Years ago, when I was first discovering faith for myself—becoming a follower of Christ rather merely a believer in Christ—the words I used to hear God saying to me the most often were “I love you.” And I used to wonder why he’d say it so often. I knew that Jesus loves me, I’d think; the Bible tells me so. Why does he need to keep repeating himself?

Over time, I came to realize, first, that it’s one of the hardest things to do—to see ourselves as loved by and precious to God; and second, that an understanding of how much God loves us is the source of everything else: for how we’re able to see ourselves in proper perspective, for how we’re able to respond to his love by loving him back, and for how we’re able to love others with the love that he has shown us.

God’s shown me that these three simple words speak of a truth that’s pretty important and foundational to how we look at life and how we live life. It’s a message that I still need to hear every day.

Jesus loves you.

Jesus loves you.

Jesus loves you.

Jesus loves you.

Think about it.

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Life’s been pretty brutal

Life’s been pretty brutal the last couple weeks–emotionally, relationally, vocationally. But I will ever trust in God.

Hear my cry, O Lord, out of the depths of my soul!
Let your ears be attentive to me, attentive to me:

My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning.

Put your hope in the Lord, for with him is unending love;
he will redeem us from all of our sins, from all of our sins.

My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning.

(Lifesize, “Watchmen,” based on Psalm 130)

The day God broke my heart and changed my life (again)

Original post: March 19, 2008; update: January 26, 2010. March 19 was the day I think God really spoke to me about the direction of my life; this was the day that God really broke my heart for justice; this was the day I found my calling.

Part of the fun (I use that term ironically) of letting God do what he wants is that he may (read: often, at least in my experience) do some breaking, so that we don’t carry all of our preconceptions and pride and baggage with us. So in tandem with the excitement of the last week, God’s also been breaking me. Seriously.

Shattering.

And it hasn’t been comfortable, even though I know it’s good for me.

The following is a mosaic of words from songs and books (Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution, U2’s When I Look at the World, Broken by Lifehouse, and Jars of Clay’s God Will Lift Up Your Head; oh, and the Bible) that I’ve been reading and listening to lately. God is messing me up.

I’m falling apart, I’m barely breathing; with a broken heart that’s still beating. In the pain, there is healing; in your name, I find meaning. So I’m holding on, I’m barely holding on to you …

Thus says the Lord: maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance will be revealed.

We are called not to be successful but to be faithful.

Is not this the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

When you look at the world, what is it that you see?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see them naked, to cover them?

When there’s all kinds of chaos and everyone is walking lame.

Love your neighbor as yourself. We are the body of Christ, the hands and feet of Jesus to the world. Christ is living inside of you and me, walking the earth.

So I try to be like you, try to feel it like you do. But without you it’s no use; I can’t see what you see when I look at the world.

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly. … Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.”

We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. … We can adore his cross without taking up ours.

And I am here still waiting, though I still have my doubts; I’m hanging on another day just to see what you will throw my way. And I’m hanging on to the words you say; you said that I will be okay.

I can’t wait any longer, I can’t wait till I’m stronger. I can’t wait any longer to see what you see when I look at the world …

Give to the wind your fear; hope and be undismayed. God hears your sighs and counts your tears; God will lift up your head!

Leave to His sovereign sway to choose and to command …

Through waves and clouds and storms, He gently clears the way. Wait coz in His time, so shall this night soon end in joy. Soon end in joy.

I get a mention in Christianity Today

… well, in their weekly Political Advocacy Tracker.

Also from Sojourners: Justin Fung discussed this week’s ABC story on a weapons manufacturer that inscribed citations to Bible verses on gun-sights it made for the U.S. military. Justin Fung wrote on Sojourners’ God’s Politics blog, “It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that carved onto weapons of war are words of truth and peace—words from a man who embodied and heralded a kingdom characterized by peace, and from a man who announced an alternative to empire and spoke of faith, hope, joy, gentleness, goodness, and peace. How in the heck do these things go together?” On Thursday, the company announced that it would cease the practice.

Apart from the misspelling, I’m humbled by the mention and encouraged by the quick and responsible action taken by Trijicon. That said, the phrasing makes it sound like I was much more responsible for the company’s action than I was.

By the grace of God, my voice was only one of thousands raised in protest, and credit belongs to everyone who stood up for their faith in the Prince of Peace.

UPDATE: Misspelling corrected, thanks to the editors of CT. 🙂

Advocating debt relief for Haiti


(Photo: James Addis/World Vision)

Rich Cizik, David Gushee and Steven Martin over at New Evangelical Partnership have written a petition entitled, “A Christian Call for Forgiveness of Haiti’s Debt.” Many people have been advocating for it as a way to assist Haiti on its long road to recovery and stability, but here’s the first actual petition that I’ve come across. Please sign it, and pass it on to others.

The country and people of Haiti have enough to deal with without crushing debt added on top of it all. Let’s do what we can to help our Haitian brothers and sisters back onto their feet.

“Who Would Jesus Shoot?” Rendered Moot

After an outcry from Christians and people of other faiths, Trijicon has released a statement saying it will no longer imprint Bible verses on its gunsights. Thank you, Trijicon, for your quick and responsible action on this matter.

Who would Jesus shoot?

In case you haven’t already seen this, it’s been discovered that gunsights on weapons used by British and American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are inscribed with coded biblical references, including:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “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)

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that carved onto weapons of war are words of truth and peace, words from a man who embodied and heralded a kingdom characterized by peace, and from a man who announced an alternative to empire and spoke of faith, hope, joy, gentleness, goodness, and peace. How in the heck do these things go together?!

On the website of Trijicon, the US-based manufacturer, it states: “We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.” Which of course is clearly congruent with SHOOTING people.

Clearly.

No wonder Christians have a bad name. You’d think we’d learned our lessons from the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. But apparently not.

UPDATE (Jan 20, 2pm EST): Now cross-posted over at God’s Politics.

UPDATE (Jan 20, 4pm EST): If you’d like to sign a petition asking the Pentagon to stop using weapons branded with Bible verses, you can do so here.