How many of you remember that old game, “He loves me, he loves me not?” It involves plucking the petals off a flower while alternating the words, “he loves me, he loves me not,” with the goal of determining whether or not the object of your affection feels the same way you do or not. While this seems like a silly child’s game, sometimes we do something similar in our relationship with God.
Even though Scripture tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16 NIV) and that God is “…the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV), we can still fall into the trap of viewing our relationship with him as a conditional one. We can start to think that God’s love for us is dependent on our actions to earn or keep. For example, we can think that God loves us only if we’ve read Scripture today, or if we’ve said our prayers, or if we’ve spent time in worship or meditation. Each day’s spiritual routine can end up being treated like a flower petal we’re plucking off. “I prayed and studied Scripture today… He loves me.” Or, “I missed my Bible reading, and was impatient with my significant other today… He loves me not.”
See how that works? It might seem simple, but it is immensely damaging if it becomes a habit. The “he loves me, he loves me not” version of God is one where we can never be certain of his love, since it is conditional on whether or not we’ve done enough to earn it.
That just isn’t true! In Romans chapter 8, Paul puts it like this:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).
How conditional does that love sound to you? Not very, right? I don’t know about you, but while my own sin can seem like a big deal sometimes, it isn’t a bigger deal than a demon or ‘anything else in creation’!
So the next time you find yourself plucking another petal off the flower and saying, “He loves me not,” remember this verse. And remember what it means: no matter what, he definitely loves you! He will not give up on you, but love you to the point of your sharing in the perfection and glory of Jesus Christ.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.