Distant or Delighted? Not Feeling the Love of God? How About Learning to See Jesus With a Smile? 1 John 3:1-3

1 John 3:1-3 Amplified Bible

Children of God Love One Another

See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory]. And everyone who has this hope [confidently placed] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (holy, undefiled, guiltless).

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

See How Well We Are Lavished With Love?

1 John 3:1 New International Version

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

The word lavish presents a picture of extravagant abundance.

It is almost too much, too generous and luxurious.

Being lavish borders on being wasteful.

But the Father has lavished his love on us.

God’s love is even more than what a wonderful mother showers on her infant.

Isaiah 66:12-14 New International Version

12 For this is what the Lord says:

“I will extend peace to her like a river,
    and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
    and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
    so will I comfort you;
    and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice
    and you will flourish like grass;
the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants,
    but his fury will be shown to his foes.

God’s love and care are supplied all the time.

God’s love is a constant bombardment of affection and care.

We may be as oblivious as an infant to the presence of his love, but God still continues to pour his love into our lives.

God’s love flows into us deeply, redefines who we are at the very core of our heart, mind and soul.

When we open our hearts to God’s love, we are transformed by it.

We are remade, regenerated into children of God.

It is God who makes us his children, not us.

We cannot earn that status.

It is a gift of God’s great love.

Because we are sinners, we do not understand God’s love for us at first.

We don’t even know we need him until we realize we are stuck in sin and cannot save ourselves.

We become God’s children when we receive Jesus as our Savior (John 1:12).

Not one of us is worthy of God’s love.

We cannot earn it.

God just loves us.

We would not be God’s children if he were not already deeply in love with us.

How amazing is that!

Being said with an exclamation mark, what if we turned that into a question?

“How Amazing Is That?”

I Really Do Not Feel God’s Love.

Psalm 13 Authorized (King James) Version

Psalm 13

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever?
how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart daily?
how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God:
lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him;
and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord,
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Have you ever said or thought these words in public or in private?

If so, you’re not alone.

Truth Be Told, Too many times I have really struggled with the disconnect between knowing that God loves me and actually seeing, and feeling His love.

It might be tempting to brush aside the discomfort of this disconnect and get on with the responsibilities of life.

“After all,” some will pat you on the back, say, “love is an action, not a feeling.”

But if you look closely at the love displayed in the Bible, it’s clear that it’s not just automatic rote Christian responsibility—it’s also passionate emotion.

God doesn’t just act lovingly toward us, He feels love for us.

And He doesn’t want us to only understand His love, but to experience it in a deep way, a deeply visual and tactile way – to visualize it and touch it daily.

If, like me, you’ve struggled with a disconnect between knowing about God’s love and actually seeing, feeling it, accept your feelings as being quite real.

Sometimes, like the Psalmist who penned Psalm 13, we will not feel loved.

Sometimes, like the Psalmist who penned Psalm 13, we will not see God’s love.

Psalm 13 is someone’s deepest expression of a heart and soul in angry anguish.

It has remained in the Bible through countless edits because God wants you the reader to know, the maximum extent to which God feels, visualizes our hearts.

Heart Distant or Delighted? Learning to See Jesus With a Smile …

Psalm 13:5-6 Authorized (King James) Version

But I have trusted in thy mercy;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord,
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

1 John 3:3 Amplified Bible

And everyone who has this hope [confidently placed] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (holy, undefiled, guiltless).

I recall many years ago sitting in a circle with the other members of my Bible study group when our leader invited us to imagine what Jesus’ face looks like.

Dutifully, I closed my eyes and tried to picture Him.

The image that appeared was of a man with long, greyish silver locks and dull, piercing brown eyes.

His unsmiling lips were hard set in a neutral line.

He didn’t look disapproving, but he didn’t look very happy either.

As I studied His face, I felt sad, fearful, and unsure of how He felt about me.

I was deeply troubled by this experience because, intellectually, I knew God always loved me deeply and felt positively—even passionately—about me.

Throughout the Bible, God describes His love in the most tender terms known to humankind.

He compares His love for us to the love a parent has for their child—a warm, welcoming, compassionate love (Isaiah 66:13; 1 John 3:1).

He also describes His love for us as the love a groom has for his bride—a passionate, ardent, sacrificial love (Revelation 19:7; Ephesians 5:25-27).

Yet, my picture of Jesus that evening revealed that, deep down, I also perceived Him as uppermost serious and restrained, maybe even a little depressed at me.

It also highlighted my fear that I was not a source of joy or pleasure to God, and that, though He loved me, it suddenly felt more being with a distant, aloof love.

I knew this isn’t how God wanted me to view Him.

Ephesians 3:18, the apostle Paul prayed, “May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully” (NLT).

More than anything, I wanted to experience the love of God—I wanted to feel it, not just know about it.

So I started asking God to take my understanding beyond intellect and into a more studious, scriptural, deep heart knowing of my value to Him.

1 John 3:1 Amplified Bible

Children of God Love One Another

See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Truth be told, sometimes it’s so much easier to notice the love people have for you than the love God has for you.

Why?

Because you can physically see them and the way they express love.

But when it comes to God, it can be challenging to see, understand, the extent to which He loves you.

After all, none of us can physically see Him on this side of Heaven.

That’s why God gave us His Word… to help us to see, feel, and understand who He is and how much He really does love us. 

See, throughout the Bible, God is described as an all-powerful and eternally just God, but also as deeply loving to those He created.

In the entire biblical story, God is presented as a character who strongly cares for us… so much so that He even allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to enter this world to bring about a redeemed and restored relationship with humanity.

In fact, Jesus is the physical embodiment of God’s eternal love, showing us that His love is a real, tangible being we can cling to and put our hope in rather than just an abstract concept we cannot ever hope to even begin to .01% understand.

Now, before we dive further into how Jesus loves us, first let’s clarify the meaning of biblical love.

BIBLICAL LOVE

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Amplified Bible

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

There are many different kinds of love.

There is parental love, brotherly love, and romantic love.

When anyone says the word love, we often first associate it with anything from dating to sex.

But, the word is so much more broad than we often think.

According to the above passage, biblical love is simply putting the needs of others before your own. 

All of us fall short of the expectation set by this passage at some point, because selflessness does not come naturally to us (Romans 3:23).

But, the good news of the Gospel is that God perfectly embodies these four verses.

He is the one that created love in the first place!

In turn, this means that God is LOVE itself (1 John 4:8).

And because He is love, He displays this quality not only through His words, but through His actions as well.

GOD’S DEVOTED LOVE

Psalm 103:12-14 Amplified Bible

12 
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 
Just as a father loves his children,
So the Lord loves those who fear and worship Him [with awe-filled respect and deepest reverence].
14 
For He knows our [mortal] frame;
He remembers that we are [merely] dust.

As any good father would, God feels sentiment and shows affection toward His children.

This picture of God as the perfect Father is a deeply intimate one because it illustrates how far [east from west], He would go to keep us safe and secure.

Another illustration of God’s love is seen in Hosea 2:14-23.

Rather than a father this time, this Bible story describes a faithful husband that comforts and treasures his wife – which is also meant to be seen as a metaphor for God’s devoted love to an unfaithful Israel.

Despite Israel’s unfaithfulness, God expressed His infinite love for His people all the more through love poetry, painting a beautiful image of God’s extreme devotion and affection towards His Bride, the Church.

LOVE AS AN ACTION

Romans 5:8-10 Amplified Bible

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified [declared free of the guilt of sin] by His blood, [how much more certain is it that] we will be saved from the [a]wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more certain, having been reconciled, that we will be saved [from the consequences of sin] by His life [that is, we will be saved because Christ lives today].

But, love is not merely a feeling.

Love is also an action… that God shows from the very beginning of the Bible.

Out of His love, God established a rescue plan for humanity in the wake of Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:15).

Out of His great love, God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt – not because they earned it, but because they were His people (Exodus 12-14).

Out of His love, God became fully human, yet fully God through the person of Jesus Christ – living a perfect life and dying a death we deserved so that we could all be restored into unto, a right relationship with Him (John 3:16-17).

In each scenario, all of God’s actions toward His people are motivated by pure love. He doesn’t just say He loves us, but He actually does something about it.

THE LOVE OF JESUS

John 15:13-16Amplified Bible

13 No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you [My] friends, because I have revealed to you everything that I have heard from My Father. 16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.

By coming into the world and sacrificing his own life for us, Jesus demonstrated the ultimate love of God.

He died for us because He considered us friends worth dying for (John 15:15).

This is the radical love that Jesus showed during his time on Earth… and still shows us today even if we do not see it in quite the same way we see the love of our friends and family.

So, when asking the question “Does Jesus love me?” the simple answer is “yes.”

Jesus really does love you not because of anything you have done, but because of who He is!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Almighty God, we praise and thank you for making us children of God, not through our own power and piety but through our baptism into crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. We turn daily to you, and in that turning we find peace, courage and purpose. Make your whole church a witness to the great good news of Christ’s resurrection. Father God, may we have the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to grasp how immeasurable wide and deep and high and long is your love for us, expressed in all that Savior Jesus has done for us, that we may be your children. In his name, Amen.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

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Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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