“Jesus Loves You.”
“Jesus Loves You.” This is a phrase we hear all the time in churches. A phrase that at times is so overused that it doesn’t even resonate with us anymore. Someone can repeat it to us, and we don’t even notice it. It is used in various circumstances and as an answer for any question. It has become “the trump card” many Christians. We carry it around and throw it at any skeptic who might challenge our faith. “But… but… Jesus loves you.” Often delivered with a big cheesy smile and innocent looking eyes, many people have grown to cringe whenever they hear these words (especially when combined with the “and he has a plan for you” suffix).
The more I think about this, the more tragic this seems to me. The most singularly significant phrase that a person could hear, has been trivialized. The reason for this seems to be the lack of addressing a very important truth. Though we all know that Jesus loves us, so many Christians find it hard to really feel or experience this love. This leads to guilt and resentment since it seems that everyone else has found the love of Christ. These people start to feel like failures as Christians because their lives are so devoid of love and pressured to “just accept” the love of Christ that is all around them. The guilt and pressure inevitably result in them simply acting as if they experience this thing called “Christ’s love”, so they can fit in. Or they simply leave the church out of discomfort.
There are many reasons why Christians fail to experience Christ’s love, some of them very complex. One common reason is that people do not feel worthy of being loved. Another is that they have never really felt loved, and so can’t recognize it when they find it. Yet another is the simple fact that although they are always around Christians, they are never loved by them (often because many of us do not know how or are unwilling to spread the love of Christ). These obstacles tend to build up on top of each other, creating a barrier between us and God. How does God feel about all of this? God wants to break through. God desires to tear down these barriers. God’s children are called to participate in the dismantling of these obstacles, so that everyone cannot just hear “that Jesus loves them,” but that they can experience it in heartfelt, life changing ways. This is something we need to both learn about and put into practice. This needs everyone to be willing to love one another as Christ has loved us.
Sacrificially… patiently… with forgiveness… and kindness. As Jesus’ representatives hear on earth, we are either building up these love barriers, or tearing them down. Imagine what would happen if an entire church got caught up in helping others to experience Jesus’ love? Then the phrase “Jesus loves you” would not cause others to cringe but to cry.