Learning to Live Loved

How well did you live loved today?

In a quiet moment, does your heart and mind reflex back to “I’m deeply loved by my Father”? During your today, how aware were you that the Three most Significant Persons in the universe are delighted to connect with you with their renewing love?

“We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19) is plastered all over God’s Word, in humans as image-bearers and through the universe!

I’m a follower of Jesus.

Not a person who simply goes to church or reads the Bible or even believes Scripture. I actively partner with the Spirit to connect and to put God’s Word into daily practice. I’m changed in that very process of abiding obedience responses…and still have a lot of anticipated change left.

Jesus identifies to His follower what a disciple looks like in Matthew 28:19-20. He gives one command to His followers (“make disciples of all people groups”), followed by three dynamic pathways to express this DiscipleMaking.

  • By going through life with the intention to connect people with His Father (John 20:21). Prioritize our relationships with our unbelieving friends (“invest”) for the purpose of inviting these acquaintances to come to faith as you “invite” them into open groups. “Invest & invite.”
  • By being immersed (baptized) as God initiates this union with the Father, Son and Spirit instantly when our hearts connect through faith in Christ. Then this experience deepens over our lifetime as we cultivate enjoyment of His presence.
  • By teaching others to do what Jesus taught His disciples to know and do. First and foremost, Jesus modeled and taught to live loved by His Father.

My journey began the summer I turned twenty-five and prayed, perhaps for the first time.

“Jesus, these people believe You change lives. I know I can’t lead my life the way I want by myself. I give You my life, lock, stock, and barrel, and take Your life in return. I’m all-in with You, Jesus.”

In that instant, my life changed and continues to change, even after forty+ years of faithfully walking together. This subject of living loved by the most significant Persons in the universe is now central to my journey. I wish I had grasped then what I’m now beginning to see more clearly. Jesus certainly made this clear!

Because we have been first loved by God (1 John 1:19), live loved, both toward God and toward others, the “greatest commandment” that fulfills all others.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40).

Simple! Just two things. Love God with our all. And love others out of His love. This fulfills the entire OT. I’m all-in, Jesus! Simple, yet not always easy.

From the start, I dived into Scripture as my authority for life. And my mind still needs renewing, even after all these years. I’m more conscious of this now than I was as a young warrior. Take a few leisurely moments. Soak in these two passages to reset our perspective of God and ourselves to see through His eyes.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

For we know in part and we prophesy in part. [For] now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (1 Corinthians 13:9-12, emphasis).

As you read on, please maintain the creative tension of the Both/And of this mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16, NASB). Compared to God’s perfect love and our anticipated relationship with Him in eternity, no matter how well-studied, we still only know in part. Also, as the crown-jewel of His creation, God created us a “little lower than only God,” “participants in the divine nature” (Psalms 8:5; 2 Peter 1:4). God made us from dust and breathed into us His very life in an intimate, face-to-face way (Genesis 2:7). Maintain the creative tension, fashioned from both dirt and divinity.

Inquire & advocate …

…as we explore together. I have no interest in you agreeing with my views unless you recognize their Biblical support. However, a willingness to inquire before advocating is a must in learning. How can we authentically inquire unless we first temporarily lay aside our preconceptions and fixed beliefs for a time? If we believe “what I see and know now is certainly right,” we have joined the 1st century Pharisees in the NT. Read through the Gospel of John simply to note how often the fixed and unchanging beliefs of the Jewish leaders blinded them to God’s truth that Jesus shared. Become lifelong life-learners and doers.

Inquire with an openness to learn and a questioning mind. Then pick up your beliefs and integrate the new into the old. Advocate for what you believe, agreeing to disagree when differences arise, without being disagreeable.

I invite you to join me by looking over my shoulder and adding your perspective to my partial. The following questions and answers reflect my best sanctified reasoning from Scripture to explore these edges of Biblical revelation for how a follower of Jesus lives loved. Where I’ve elbowed beyond Scripture or failed to venture far enough, please come alongside and share your insights as fellow journeyers. With insight from others, I intend to move closer to accurately exploring the edges of this mystery of godliness together.

Do you really know what God truly thinks about you?

Fasten your mental seat belts!

Where can we discover what God’s original and unchanging intent is for us in creation?

I’ve never had a mental thought that in some way has not been colored by our Fall. So, the answer must lie outside me. I only know of two primary sources to discover God’s original and unchangeable plan for His people.

  1. Genesis 1 and 2 prior to the Fall of humanity. So, soak in Genesis 1 and 2 (alongside 3).
  2. And Jesus, the “Second Man,” especially as revealed in the Gospels. Jesus is the first complete person since Adam sinned (1 Corinthians 15:47). So, marinate in the Gospels to get acquainted with this fascinating man who reveals both ideal humanity and His Father.

Who is this God who created us to know and love Him?

From all eternity, the relational Trinity (Father, Son and Spirit) is community at His core. He is neither lonely nor solitary. God lives in a mutual equality as one God with life shared in common and also in an incredible diversity as Father, Son and Spirit that forges deep unity. The equality of our God with diversity in unity expresses a rich and abounding relational community of utter oneness…and blows our socks off!

Before anything else existed, this Family-of-Three always existed in perfect cooperation…lacking nothing. Their unbridled delight and satisfaction with One Another in their mutual, joy-filled, encouraging life knew no bounds! As a deeply intimate, mutually serving, gloriously creative, and powerful relational Community, such life and love and light must be multiplied to reach the zenith of its fullness.

So then, why did God create humanity?

God certainly did not create because He lacked anything in Himself. However, love is creative. Love is generative. Love must multiply. Their mutual love would not “permit” this supremely good Family-of-Three to keep their relationship to themselves. (I flounder for language to express their free decision to create from a relationship lacking nothing).

God is a generous Giver at heart. He yearns to bless by pouring out His life and love and light. Such a passionate Self-Giver with His bubbling over life fulfilled His desire to multiply by “going public.” God’s goodness ignited His generosity to create out of His greatness, both image-bearers and a creation to house us.

Genesis 1 and 2 magnificently display their solution. We call this creation.

The most significant SmallGroup in the universe designed image-bearers, created uniquely man and uniquely woman to live loved by Him. Fish need water to live. Birds need the air to fly. Humanity needs God’s initiating first-love to live loved (1 John 4:19). God fashioned humanity as much like the infinite Uncreated as a created being could ever be (Genesis 1:26; 2:7; Psalm 8:5; 2 Peter 1:4). This amazing Reality prepares us to live loved by the Father, Son and Spirit.

This is the purpose for which you exist. God designed you for this, whether you know it or not. In the beginning God created….

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over…” (Genesis 1:26, cp. also 1:27-28).

His Eden-intent was, and is, for His image-bearers to first experience intimate relationship with Him (“in our image…likeness”). And as intimate partners to join His adventure of life so God could rule His earth through His human representatives (“rule over”). In God’s infinite wisdom, He chose to deepen relationship with His crown-jewel by sharing His rule in this world with those who take their rightful place by His side to live loved by Him. Shared-adventures as partners, especially when difficult, often bind a team together as lifelong friends.

“Overflowing with the generosity that comes from the abundance of real love, He creates us to share in the joy of this heroic intimacy” (Curtis & Eldredge, The Sacred Romance).

God formed the first man from the ground and breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Imagine the intimacy of that first glimpse Adam snatched of his new world as his eyes opened. Adam gazed longingly into the face of the Living God! God also designed us to embark on a faith-adventure with Him as intimate allies to mutually build up one another in His circle of life and to battle to restore those who may wander.

This Reality stuns us.

This relational, Triune God determined to open the circle of His intimate Family relationship and to share His unending life with those fashioned in His image. How else could we live loved except out of the fulness of His life? The Bible calls this life “eternal life.” Eternal life emphasizes the unique quality of His life in us, a life without end that fills us to overflowing (John 10:10b). This is why we can live loved, because He is the object of our love.

“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love” (Henry Scougal).

What is your worth in God’s eyes?

God designed us with core-needs for intimacy and adventure that require more than we often believe we have. As intimate allies, our good Father and our great King prepare His people together as His son and daughter, His prince and princess, to take our rightful place as co-regents over this world. These fabulous word-pictures stir our hearts. When we add to this the NT clarity of Jesus as the generous Groom ravished by love for His people as His bride, our heart becomes unhinged! This picture is so intimate that Scripture waited until the coming of Jesus to clearly reveal such a relationship (Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 19:7).

Do you feel God’s spiritual desire for you that matches the physical desire of a groom on his wedding night for his bride?

Please don’t settle until you do. Read the Psalms. Read the Gospels, especially John, describing the intimacy of Jesus with His Father.

“I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (Jesus in John 14:20).

I see this as the eternal reason for the creation of human life and the world He delegated to His people to steward. God’s heart yearns to enjoy intimate relationship with His image-bearers. He delights to partner with each of us in His purposeful adventures. Both our identity and authority. Stunning, yet this was His Eden-intent, even though God knew Adam would fail.

Why is the possibility of failed love part of creation?

Authentic love must be freely given. God designed us to willingly give Him our love in the sweet surrender of two lovers who truly trust one another. And if the opportunity to willingly receive and give back love exists, the possibility of rejecting that love must also exist for love to be authentic.

God was willing to risk rejection because the upside of love with you and me was so great!

Eve, then Adam, chose independence and went rogue in Genesis 3. They foolishly chose to shift allegiance to follow God’s archenemy, Satan, instead of the most wonderful Family in the universe. Yet God had a plan, Jesus, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

And when Jesus came to restore relationship, He did not come alone!

The Father, Son and Spirit all worked with His people as a divine Partnership-of-Three (Acts 10:37-38; Mark 1:9-11). Jesus’ life on earth gives us a Model for how to live loved by the Father. The life and death of Jesus, His resurrection and ascension, all make it possible to live loved by bringing God’s plan to fulfillment. Jesus determined with certainty through His resurrection and ascension that God’s plan is already successfully completed. But we do not yet experience all the finality as we walk this out on earth.

Jesus came once to fully meet all God’s requirements (the already). He will come again to consummate all things (the not yet). Some call this the “already but not yet” of God’s plan. Others prefer the phrase “time between the times.” These phrases point towards the daily responsibility of God’s people. As God’s intimate allies, we make visible in and through our lives what is already true as we await Jesus’ 2nd Coming. No wonder Jesus calls us to live loved by the Father, Son and Spirit and to love others like Jesus does.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (Jesus in John 13:34, emphasis).

God never veers from His original Eden-intent, despite the horrific Fall in Genesis 3. He values His Bride so much that He freely, willingly, and joyfully paid such a steep price to restore intimate relationship with us. The cost of the death of His Son, Jesus, surpasses the sum of all ransoms paid from the beginning of the world to rescue and restore a kidnapped family member.

How vast is God’s love for you?

One measure of the value of any object is its purchase price. The God who knows everything was acutely aware of the coming defection of mankind, even before creating. What “return on investment” (ROI) could be great enough for God to pay such an immense price to ransom humanity?

Jesus joyfully paid this price for you and for me because He anticipated the results, bringing many daughters and sons into the Family of God (Hebrews 12:2; 2:10). This immeasurably high cost of Jesus’ death restores us to participate in God’s eternal Eden-plan. Look at the cross. Jesus’ death defines how very much the Father loves you! This is our true North.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a).

God created us to live loved by Him.

Transformation begins when we see the Father’s love through Jesus’ eyes and value ourselves in the same way our Family-of-Three value us. “We become what we behold.”  They delighted to design us as God’s image-bearers and to restore us like Jesus, unique in all His creation. As new creations, our lavish Giver calls us to fulfill our destiny. Through us, He has now multiplied channels for His life and love and light as we live loved.

As we freely receive, also willingly give Jesus’ life away to free captives one-by-one on His daring adventure. To live loved means that we are a causeway to channel God’s love toward others. The rescued become the rescuers. Out of His free, boundless and energetic love, God found His pleasure in creating us lovable, like Jesus. It’s who He is. He acts. God blesses. He initiates to reproduce because it’s His nature. Repeatedly recalibrate your spiritual compass to God’s eternal plan.

How do I embrace this new life and live loved?

When I came to Christ as an adult, those around me in my country church modeled a high value of God’s Word. From the very first, time in the Bible became a spiritual strength to change me from the inside out. However, don’t feel like you need to be where your pastor or your favorite internet speaker are in your grasp of Scripture. Begin where you are now, without guilt or shame, condemnation or regret. Where you now are is the only place from which change can ever occur.

Are you blown away with God’s plan for you? Feeling overwhelmed? We have a lifetime to explore the depth of what Jesus gifted us at that point in time when our hearts joined together. Continually pursue. Partner with the Spirit and keep making incremental progress on your journey. Trust. Chillax in Him!

Begin with a minimum,…

…then grow it over the years. As I’ve dialoged with others, here’s what I now believe is the minimum that’s crucial to grow, not just for me, but for all. Think through this with your Resident Teach, the Spirit of God, and make these your own because we all see and know in part (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

  1. A desire to cultivate God’s presence as a moment-by-moment priority. All thoughts are inner conversations in our head. Invite Jesus into the other half of all our inner conversations.
  2. Sufficient time in God’s Word to feed our hearts in this season so we see life more as Jesus does. I may need more time than some, and less than others. I’m the gatekeeper of my heart. I decide for me (in cooperation with the Spirit). Yet take care not to let self-indulgence cause spiritual malnutrition. The reason I gathered and posted Mining God’s Word is to make available a relatively simple, yet tiered, approach to ingest God’s Word with a bias towards doing. Perhaps peruse this page next.
  3. Quick obedience to partner with God’s heart in His daily God-Assignments. Your assignments are not mine, and mine are not yours. Discern. Stay alert to the footsteps of the Father in your life.
  4. Keep short accounts when we fall short, both with God and with others. Walking in reconciliation without unforgiveness develops a clear eye to receive insight. With no guilt! No shame. No condemnation.

Cultivating God’s presence. Sufficient time in God’s Word. Quick obedience. Short accounts.

Enjoy relationship with God above all else. This is my primary reason to study God’s Word since all else flows from this relationship. Grow by faith, apart from what we can do on our own, even before we know what faith is. True faith is not a series of intellectually satisfying beliefs. True faith actively responds in the sweet surrender of all-in allegiance to the object of our faith. To believe or have faith is one of the simplest things. God designed us to connect with Him through faith. Faith is like…

  • knocking on a door (Revelation 3:20),
  • receiving a gift from a close friend (John 1:12),
  • drinking a refreshing glass of water (John 4:14),
  • calling for help when drowning (Romans 10:13), or
  • coming to a dear friend when weary (Matthew 11:28).

True faith rests our lives entirely on God and His secure promises, like resting our weight fully in a chair. The object of our faith is more crucial than the amount of faith (a mustard seed size is enough). Faith will get us anything, take us anywhere in God’s economy. Yet without faith we have no new life, no approach to God, no forgiveness, no intimacy with God, no partnering in this grand adventure…no spiritual life at all.

By ourselves, we possess no ability to live loved. With Jesus as our true Vine, we have all the abundance we need. Mining God’s Word of its treasures together gets us in touch with the mind and heart of our Lord and Master. As worshipers, “we be become what we behold” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). So, behold Jesus in Scripture.

What is this worth to you?

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells everything that he has, and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold everything that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46).

What could hinder our lives from experiencing this abundance from our design?

Unbelieving heart. Unconfessed sin. Unforgiving spirit.

(These three responses block our spiritual channels. They come from my devotional on Cultivating Enjoyment of God’s Presence, Moment-by-Moment in the 21st Century, available on Amazon.com.)

Please don’t choose our fickle feelings over God’s unfailingly promises.

Next Steps

  1. Print out this PDF of this webpage, mark it up and make it your own.
  2. Move on to the next cascading web page, Mining God’s Word.