Do we feel loved? When I see all the anger in the world I ask myself this question. Can love coexist in someone’s heart when all that appears to come out is bitterness, anger and resentment? 

What would it look like for Christians to feel loved again? I cannot help but believe that when one comes to the conclusion that they are fully known and fully loved by God they cannot help but go from spiritual transformation to total life transformation. 

If the God of the universe loves you, then faith moves from an intellectual exercise to a deep and intimate relationship. The first Christians seemed to have their identity grounded in this love even in great times of uncertainty.

For us to be witnesses of this love I need to take you to one of the great love stories of the Bible. It comes from the Old Testament in the book of Hosea where God, at the start of the book, tells Hosea, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman.” It seems like the strangest marriage advice but Hosea follows it and the woman lives up to her reputation. Then, after a series of unfortunate events, she abandons Hosea. 

This is where things get interesting. God calls Hosea to take her back, pay off her debts and reconcile with her. Why would God do this? God calls Hosea to do this because marriage is a covenant between two people, just like how God makes covenants or promises with humanity throughout the Bible. Hosea’s marriage is a parable of the relationship God has with Israel. God will spend the first 10 chapters of Hosea proving how Israel has broken their covenant or contract with God and how God now has a legal basis to move on or divorce himself from these people.

The question of the book of Hosea is how does God balance justice and mercy? How will God answer this question? To answer this question, God takes on a different cherished relationship – the relationship between a father and son. This is the moment when God has a decision to make: Will God the Father be like so many fathers throughout history who have abandoned their children, or will God do something else? God answers this question in Chapter 11, and the climax is when God says, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? “How can I hand you over, Israel?” God goes on to say, “My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” Ultimately the tension of God’s justice and mercy is settled in love for the people of God. It is the actions played out in Hosea’s very own marriage. God, in love, decides to be the good father.

At some point I came to realize these amazing people around me. They were so different than everyone else who were like mystical sages when compared with others. I couldn’t understand what made them tick, and in seeking the correlation here is what I discovered. It’s like they aren’t playing by the same set of rules as the rest of the world. Since they are the beloved of God they no longer are seeking for the world to feed their ego. Now they can be humble and kind without needing reassurance from others in return. They can trade the need to be cool, trendy or fashionable out with the gift of being genuine. No longer are they burdened by the need to achieve a certain salary, title or job to consider themselves successful, so instead they can invest in helping others win in life. 

If we grasp even just a little of the Christian message it can’t help but change us. If the God of creation loves us then we form a different set of values. If God would go to the lengths outlined in scripture for you and me, then how can this not completely change our entire identity? 

If God really loves us, then it would make sense why the things of this world seem strangely dim. God’s love frees us to live differently. No longer am I bound by the ego of my false self. No longer do I need to worry about my image or branding to the world around. Human metrics of comparison fall short when compared to the depth of God’s love. To be the beloved of God transforms our entire being. And I think the witness the world needs to see is how Christians can be loved again.

The Rev. Tyler Goudeau is senior minister at Poncha Springs Church of Christ.

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