The Assurance of God’s Love
By Jennifer Slattery
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16
One statement, perhaps made with the best intentions, nearly drove our daughter from the church and caused her to spend nearly a decade in fear. It was her first Christian camp, and really her first extended time away from home. She went into the adventure giggly excited, anticipating swimming, chocolate eating, and hiking with friends.
I dropped her off, praising God for an experience I felt certain would deepen her faith.
My joy turned to anger a few days later when she tearfully relayed what became long lasting, deep wounds.
Words spoken by one of the workers, a man entrusted to build her up and point her to Jesus, made her believe somehow that heartfelt prayer offered to Christ a few years previously had been insufficient.
“He said I wasn’t God’s friend,” she cried, with the anguish that can only come from feeling as if God Himself had turned you away. “He said that made God sad. But I thought I was God’s friend.”
“You are, Sweetheart,” I replied, and then I reminded her of grace and reiterated that reminder numerous times throughout her childhood. She didn’t have to earn God’s love. She had that. Nor did she have to read her Bible X number of times to gain entrance into heaven. Jesus fulfilled every requirement when He died on the cross for her sins, and she accessed that free gift the moment she believed.
In today’s verse the author provided the same assurance to Ephesian believers that I gave my daughter. False teachers had infiltrated the church, denied Christ had come in the flesh, and claimed a special mystical knowledge only available to the elite. It was as if they were saying, “Jesus’ death and resurrection weren’t enough.”
“You’re not God’s friend.”
1 John 4:16 refuted this, saying, in essence, God’s love abides in you and pours from you. Rest in that. I encourage you to do the same.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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