I posted a Facebook status this week stating how I wrestle with some of the Christianese we speak. "You don't deserve God's love, but God loves you anyway." The comments on my page were varied, passionate, and showed me once more how we come to know God, experience life with Christ, and share it differently. I love that "being a Christian" isn't a formula. To me, the diversity in the answers and the common threads confirm how God is both so steadfast and multi-dimensional.
When we try to unpack what it means to "deserve love" we come at it from all different directions. Some of us believe we don't deserve God's love - that we are sinners, in awe of God's forgiveness and sacrifice. Others see themselves as God's beloved child - and like a baby, there is no need to earn or do anything to be loved, we simply deserve God's love because we are his creation. Popular Christian music these days doesn't make it the question of "deserving or not" any easier.
From Don't Deserve You by Plumb:
I don't deserve your love
But you give it to me anyway
Can't get enough
You're everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It's what you do
And I don't deserve you
From the inside out it shows, you're worth more than gold
(Gold gold, oh yeah yeah Gold, gold)
You're worth more than gold
(Gold gold oh yeah yeah Gold, gold)
So don't let anybody tell you that you're not loved
And don't let anybody tell you that you're not enough
Yeah there are days when we all feel like we're messed up
But the truth is that we're all diamonds in the rough
So don't be ashamed to wear your crown
You're a king you're a queen inside and out
Here in this tension I sit, a sinner, a child. I am both desperate for a love I can't fathom and freed by a love that has always been.
Over the past couple of years God has been moving me toward grace for myself and others. I'm learning to live out of love vs. fear, failure, and shame. I'm so very grateful for the ways I've come to see the entire story of God as a story of redemption, forgiveness, and freedom. This is a story in which I find such peace even though so much of it I don't understand. It boggles my mind that you and I get to be a part of that story! When I operate out of the knowledge and belief that I am deserving of God's love because He made me, wants relationship with me, and is "for me," I throw off the sin that so easily entangles because I can see it doesn't fit with who I am at the core...Who I was since the moment God knit me together.
I work with children and women everyday who I believe need to know that they don't have to strive for God's love, they simply have to accept it and soak in it. My best pastoral advice seems to be: Marinate your life in the fact that you are God's beloved...that all people are God's chosen ones. It takes courage and trust to be ok being embraced, guided, held, carried, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. But it's here, in that place of faith, we find rest for our weariness, hope for our struggles, and a well of unfailing love. It takes surrender to not only believe we sin and need a Savior, but it takes surrender to believe we are loved.