Roger Severino

Does God’s Love Mark Your Identity?

Love as our Identity

1 John 3:1 says: Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!”[1] Whatever background filters or lenses you bring to the idea of a father-child relationship, please know that God is the perfect, benevolent Father who loves you very well! In Matthew 7, Jesus’ teaching about prayer compares the Heavenly Father to earthly fathers. In doing so He acknowledges that a decent father desires to give good things to his children to meet their needs. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”[2] It’s hard for me to grasp this, but as much as I love my three children (and I do!), my Heavenly Father loves me even better, because He is perfect in His love and I am not.

Do you live as a person marked by God’s love? Does it inform your identity and how you see yourself? I don’t mean do you believe it theoretically. I mean, do you believe it in your soul? Do you live as a beloved child of God?

God’s love initiates. It is unconditional towards His children. It does not depend on our performance or scorecard. Because the world’s love is so contingent on these things, it is often hard for us to realize that we don’t earn God’s love. Most of us are familiar with the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15. The rebellious, ungrateful younger son comes back to his father, and the father simply embraces him. The older, self-righteous son is angry with his father’s gracious welcome, and doesn’t realize that the greatest gift he has is that he too is loved by the father. Rather than living like a beloved son, however, he saw himself as someone “slaving” for him. Interesting question: Do you live as a slave, or as a son or daughter?

Every time I read this story in Luke 15, I am amazed that Jesus uses this portrayal as a picture of our Heavenly Father. His heart of love reaches out to the rebellious (me so often). His welcoming embrace also moves toward the self-righteous and judgmental (me as well).

Love as our Witness

We live in a world often caught up in the rat race of competition and comparison, seeking to prove one’s worth, earning admiration and love. What if followers of Jesus lived counter-culturally and presented an alternative to this way of living? And…what if we not only provided an example of a different measurement of value and self-worth, but also extended that unconditional love towards others? “We love because He first loved us” says 1 John 4:19. Because God has initiated love towards you, you too can take that first step. Remember, here we are talking about agape love, love that is not self-seeking but desires God’s best for the other.

Live as a beloved child of God. And in so doing, let God’s love spill out from you onto others.

[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), 1 Jn 3:1.
[2] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Mt 7:11.

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