On Being and Becoming

Earlier this week I read again the words of Jesus recorded in John 15,

I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me.
Make yourselves at home in my love.
(The Message)

This statement is amazing, but we often read past it with not so much as a notice. Yet our failure to hear the truth of these words and to acknowledge their significance is the root of many of our struggles and failures in life. We do not believe we are intimately and fully loved by Jesus and we have not taken the time to make ourselves at home in His love. Jesus expressed his love for us and told us to make ourselves at home in his love for a reason, but we seldom think on such things. There is so much going on around us, so many things pulling on us and pushing us that this truth, this reality, is often lost to us. It is a great loss. So over the next few weeks I hope to prompt us all to ponder, think on, contemplate these words—for we pass over them to our peril!

Let’s begin at the beginning—allow your thoughts to move toward the distant past, allow your imagination to enter into that era before Earth came to be, before there was time or space, back to where the only existence, the only reality was God . . . in glorious light, expressing love. Pause there. Listen again to Jesus, a little later in John’s narrative, where he speaks of this way of existing as he talks with Abba (Daddy or Papa), that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world (John. 17:24c nasb). Think about the connection between the glory of Christ and His Father’s love for Him. Better yet, ask Jesus to let you see the connections between His glory and the Father’s love. Do it now, and ask Jesus to take you there again at various times over the next week or so. Allow yourself to wonder at the greatness of their love for one another.

Hold that as The Son creates the world, the stars, light, plants, animals, humans . . . humans loved by The Son . . ., sin enters and relationships shatter. Eons pass and then, in the fullness of time, The Son takes on flesh and at what I believe is the crucial point in his earthly existence, he receives affirmation of his core identity—he is The Son beloved by his Papa. Before he begins that difficult journey of teaching, healing, bringing freedom in the power of the Spirit, as he publicly identifies himself with fallen humanity in his baptism, Papa speaks to him from heaven—You are My beloved son, in You I am well-pleased. (Luke 3:22, nasb) jesusbaptism1Immediately after his baptism and affirmation as Papa’s beloved son, Jesus is compelled by the Spirit to go into the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan to act contrary to his core identity as the beloved. As Henri Nouwen says, “He was tempted to believe he was someone else: You are the one who can turn stone into bread. You are the one who can jump from the temple. You are the one who can make others bow to your power. Jesus said, ‘No, no, no. I am the Beloved of God.’”

How do you face temptation? Is it by your own power, strength, and willpower, or is it rooted in your core identity as God’s Beloved? That is Nouwen’s point, for he says “The greatest trap in life is not success, popularity, or power but self-rejection, doubting who we really are.” The greatest trap? It is not that those other things are not traps, but that our mere doubts about being Beloved makes all the other temptations so much more attractive. This is why we need to not only know we are loved, but also make ourselves at home in his love. We are loved whether we recognize it or not, but we don’t enjoy being loved and it doesn’t affect how we live unless we are really “comfortable in our own skin” as Jesus’ Beloved. This is taking the being into the becoming—into living as who we are: Beloved.

Jesus, Wow! This is too much for me! Please take my thoughts often to the place before time when Papa loved You. Take me from there, please, into the truth that even then, before the foundation of the world, you loved me. Allow me to experience Your speaking to me affirmation as Your Beloved, for You said:

I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me.
And please enable me to make myself at home in Your love.

Thank You.

 John