“…So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who he made you to be
And live like you’re loved
Live like you’re loved…”
There’s a question that has been swirling in my mind all of this week, relating to the theme of the previous Flashback Fridays blog. You know how in last week’s blog I spoke about the hard and deep questions that we all need to ask, but sometimes are afraid to, versus the easy and superficial questions that maybe aren’t that necessary, but we ask in abundance anyway? At the end I alluded to the fact that this week I will continue to talk about questions, and maybe certain questions in specific, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. But all throughout this week, though at times I was busy at the café, other times I pondered and reflected, and struggled to come up with a theme of what to talk about this week. Then today it hit me. Why don’t I highlight the question that we’re all inwardly asking ourselves, no matter our gender, race, socioeconomic status, religion, political views etc?
While I don’t know what ‘the most asked question ever’ is – I haven’t asked Google that! – I surmise that it would be something similar to ‘Am I loved. No matter what I do or don’t do? Can I be ‘too far gone’ to run back into the love I have been searching for all along?’ And the answer that I would say to those hurting and grieving and searching and asking (even though I may not be professionally qualified, but I can give advice); would be that yes, we are truly loved no matter what. Yes we are loved unconditionally and completely. No, we are not too far gone. No matter what we have done and no matter what we didn’t do, we can still turn around.
Regardless of each of our pasts and our baggage, we all want to be loved and accepted. Some of us are brought up in loving families, with our parents, friends, extended family loving on us all the time, and showing us in many ways how much we are appreciated, cared for, and known by everyone who are important to us. For some of us that can feel like we’re being smothered, or helicopter parented- yet a deeper examination reveals that our parents are only doing what they think is best for us, either because they feel like they want to give us the opportunities to us that they never received, or they want us to follow exactly in our footsteps. It may be irritating, but with parents and their somewhat constant nagging, it’s their way of saying ‘I love you’. It’s their love language. While we might take them for granted, we can and we should, take stock of our lives, and reflect upon how those who say they love us treat us- as that is the true measure of whether we are loved by our family and friends or not.
But other parents, friends and family; can be, and sometimes are, absent from a person’s life. It’s the opposite way around, as neglect, abuse, and torment can be present in someone’s life, and negative words spoken into their life, resulting in bitterness, hate and grudges held. What should happen then? When all of the positive influences in one’s life are rid of and done away with? Is there really hope for everyone, and is even the person whom everyone has deserted, loved fully and completely? Yes, yes and yes! Let me say that even if no one in this world loves you (and I find that hard to believe with that statement), then there is still one person, and will always be one person, even if you believe or not! That person is Jesus.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Now Jesus sometimes spoke in parables, in allegories, in metaphors, throughout his years on ministry here on this earth long ago. In this above scripture in Luke 15:11-32, Jesus delves into the story of a son who wanted to run away from his father and spend all of the inheritance money (before his father had died, which really shows a lack of patience and maturity, in my opinion!). Given the chance to do exactly that, the younger son squanders all of his money, comes back home (which is very big of him to do that, to humble himself when before he was prideful!) and begs for his father’s forgiveness, offering to work as a servant for the rest of his days. But notice what the father does- he runs to the son, and then excitedly tells his servants to cook a lavish feast because his son has returned. He doesn’t keep the record of the wrong-doing, nor reprimand, nor shun away. He welcomes, he forgives, he accepts back into his arms. The younger son was foolish and made mistakes, yet the father still welcomed him back into his arms. And that’s exactly how Jesus Christ is.
The parable of the lost son is in essence a story that tells us that Jesus loves us all the time, when we’re happy, sad, angry, when we’re close to Him, and even if we reject Him. Even if we never follow Him, even if we never acknowledge His existence, or do but still reject the promise of eternal life; Jesus still loves us. No matter what. He loves everyone, without condition, so, so much that He gave us Jesus, who died on the cross and took our place, so that we didn’t have to pay the price. How profound and trippy is that? That the One who fashioned the sun and stars in place in the galaxy knows each of us by name, and loves us all with a love that is never ending, and always forgiving?
But that’s not the end of the story. The father then has to talk to the older son, who has been dutifully helping the father while the younger son was galivanting around doing who knows what- and to tell you the truth the older son isn’t happy. ‘What’s going on? Why is my brother being welcomed back when he has previously turned his back on you? When he still might turn on you again in the future?’. And the father just says ‘Well my son, your brother’s alive, isn’t that cause for celebration?’. The father doesn’t say ‘well son, you’re right that your brother has cursed in my name, thanks for pointing that out, I’ll kick him out of home now’- no, the opposite. God, who loves each of us the same, who doesn’t want anyone to perish, is like the father in this story, and He reminds us all that no matter how far we fall, God will pick us up, and draw us closer and closer to Himself. He is our shelter all the time, and that is something to celebrate. Jesus Christ knows no favourites, and once we get our head around that, that the gospel is for saints and sinners, for the righteous and the wicked, for the weak and the strong, for the rich and the poor, for those who know Him and for those who do not; then we can fully praise our King, our Father and our Lord for making such a sacrifice on the cross for all of humanity.
While grappling with this topic of unconditional love that I knew I was going to talk about (and even now, it’s a topic that can be delved into further, which may be for next week’s Flashback Friday’s post or for another week!), a certain album popped into my head numerous times, supposedly at ‘random’. It’s an album we never reviewed during our time as a site, for many reasons; so maybe it’s fitting that we talk about these batch of highly enjoyable, eclectic, vibrant and relevant melodies, released in 2015 by Canadian pop/punk rockers Hawk Nelson. Diamonds is the second album featuring new frontman Jon Steingard, and with inspiring melodies like “Live Like You’re Loved”, “Diamonds” and “Drops In The Ocean” speaking about unconditional love (the very topic that I’m speaking about now! And the topic we all need to fully grasp and understand!); let me just leave you all with the playlist of these ten songs, and let Jon and the guys of Hawk Nelson minister to your soul. As you remember that Jesus loves all of us, and each of us personally, let us therefore live life free, knowing that we are worthy, valued, appreciated and loved. It’s a good feeling, knowing that we’re thought of and thought about, probably the best feeling in the world. How much more will we feel if we know that the God of the entire known universe loves each one of us intimately, and knows us each intimately too?
“…If you wanna know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If you wanna see
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean…”
Let me jump straight to it- do you feel unloved? Do you feel like you don’t deserve love? Remember that Jesus loves you, the same as He does for me, the same as He does for the rest of the people on this planet. So now…you can dwell on it. Reflect, contemplate, and remember that Jesus died for you. And rose again, giving us an invite to the great feast at the end of time, should we choose to accept it! Isn’t that exciting?
See you guys next time for some more reflection and introspection!