Most of us either know, or have heard, the cute little children’s song entitled ‘Jesus Loves Me’. The lyrics come from a poem written in 1860 by Anna Bartlett Warner. It’s typically one of the first songs that a child from a religious heritage learns to sing. Here is the first stanza:
Jesus loves me—this I know,
For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to him belong,—
They are weak, but he is strong.
Although the song might sound adorable when sung by sweet little children, it actually contains a devastating lie.
Here is the lie:
Jesus loves me this I know, *for* the Bible tells me so…
One word makes this a huge lie. It is the word FOR. The truth is, Jesus does love me. Yes, the bible does state this. Thankfully, I actually do know that Jesus loves me; but NOT because the bible tells me so! Love is not something you can truly know simply because it is written on a page in a book. Love is the central component in life, and knowing this ‘love’ is a matter of life and death for all people.
As a matter of fact, I have discovered something quite disturbing. The more a person actually believes that Jesus loves them simply because the bible ‘tells them so’, the less they actually ‘know‘ that Jesus loves them in reality. I could tell you story after story of people who were taught that the divine love of Christ could be understood primarily through ink on a page. The stories of these people’s lives demonstrate the destructive nature of such a belief.
Most who have bought into the lie that we can know we are loved simply because we may have read it in a book, struggle with living in the confidence of knowing they are accepted and loved. Because of their lack of truly knowing they are loved, most of these people have lived with underlying layers of religious guilt, condemnation, and performance based approval that has negatively affected their ability to have deep relationships. This fear can be paralyzing. It is the opposite of freedom. The world’s system, especially the religious system, is filled with such people.
If the Lord wanted to communicate His love to humanity through ink on a page, babies would be born in libraries innately knowing how to read or understand human language. Obviously babies are born illiterate, unable to understand human language. The fact is, most of humanity throughout history have been illiterate. This is still true for most of the developing world today, but that is another article for another day.
The fact is, babies are born into families with real people in close proximity. In a family, love is given. A baby can receive love long before they learn to understand language or read. A baby’s development and well being is dependent upon this. I find it fascinating and revealing that the Lord designed ‘family’ to communicate love to ‘illiterate’ babies.
Before we begin to make an idol out of natural family, however (parents, siblings, spouse, children, etc…), we would do well to understand that our earthly family is simply a shadow of a greater family. As good as we might think our natural family is, our lives are actually a demonstration that natural family is not enough. True love cannot fully be communicated through a shadow. True love is fully personified in the person of Jesus Christ.
If Christ (true love) could have been known through ink on a page, the Lord would have simply written a book about Christ. Thankfully, He stepped into the world with ‘skin’ on. Nothing has changed. He still has ‘skin’ on today. He has a body on the earth today made up of real living people who are in relationship with Him and with one another.
If we want to get technical about things, the bible says something specific about where the fullness of love (Christ) can be found:
And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23, NASB)
God is love, and Jesus Christ is the personification of this love. This love fills all in all, and the fullness of Him who is love is found in His body. Living, breathing, brothers and sisters in Christ, are His body. This is where love is designed to be unleashed and known.
The more I become familiar with the life stories of people who once believed they could ‘know’ the love of Christ simply because the bible told them so, the more I understand that the Lord is faithful to expose that lie. He is eager to bring us into an experiential knowledge of His love expressed through relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ. The pattern looks like this:
- We were taught to know and understand God through learning correct ‘doctrine’ or making correct ‘decisions’.
- We put our hope in our belief in the right ‘doctrine’ or ‘decision’.
- Life experience and difficulties exposed the inadequacies of our attachment to a doctrine or decision.
- We felt shame and condemnation that our doctrine or decision was no longer sufficient to sustain us, leading us to question our own identity in Christ. Fear and paralysis was the result. This negatively affected our significant relationships.
- The Lord sent real people into our lives who began to relationally demonstrate the love of Christ to us.
- This relational demonstration of the love of Christ began to reveal the true nature of Christ to us.
- This relational demonstration of the love of Christ began to heal us and restore us to our true identity in Christ.
- Because of this relational demonstration of the love of Christ, we are becoming aware that Jesus truly does love us.
The more I get to know brothers and sisters in the church community that I am a part of, the more I realize how profoundly healing the love of Christ that flows through others can be. My ability to truly ‘see’ and ‘receive’ this love in my brothers and sisters (not their flesh) is the key to knowing the love of Jesus Christ myself.
Yes, Jesus loves me.