“Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.”
I, like many other young kids back in the day, sang this song plenty of times during Sunday school. It’s a basic truth of Christianity: God loves me, and that’s why He sent Jesus to die. “For God so loved the world,” and all. But in a recent study in the New Testament letter of Ephesians, I had to stop and question myself, “Yes, I know that God loves me, but do I really believe that? Do I feel that love?”
Ephesians overall, I think, is about how salvation has been opened up to all people. But an undercurrent to that great theme is God’s love. It’s a drum beat sounding steadily through the chapters.
Paul notes that it was “in love” that God chose His people before creation to be adopted as His sons. He emphasizes the role of God’s love in salvation; prays that his readers would know the love of Christ deeply; encourages us to follow Christ’s loving example in forgiving others, generally living life in a loving manner, and husbands loving their wives as “Christ loved the church.” He ends the letter by praying for more “love with faith” for the Ephesian believers.
With such a strong, reoccuring theme, I wrestled with how I felt about God’s love. Yes, I know Jesus loves me, but do I believe that beyond the Bible telling me so?
Paul was writing to Gentile Christians, that is, non-Jewish Christians, trying to convince them that they did have a place in the Kingdom of God. They were not accidents or second-class citizens, they were now part of the same promise given to Abraham so many centuries before. Doubtless, if they were struggling to accept this, they could’ve been struggling to accept that God loved them.
I think it’s easy for me to struggle with this, too. Growing up in a Christian environment, it’d be simple to take for granted God’s love. But as I mature as a Christian, I shouldn’t settle for simply knowing intellectually that God loves me, I need to pray with Paul that I can better “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). I’ve felt this love before, and I pray that I always feel it and plumb its rich depths for the rest of my life. Then, when my journey ends in heaven, I can say with great feeling, “Yes, Jesus loves me!”
P.S.- Here’s a good song Rich Mullins wrote that wrestles with God’s love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhKZn8gdN-E