I’m off to Germany to share God’s life and love there. Three of my books have been translated into German, He Loves Me as Loved, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore as The Call of the Wild Goose, and Authentic Relationships as Authentic Relationships. I’m glad they kept one of my titles! And, in the last few years I have gotten a lot of email from Germany from people who are excited about living more relationally in the life of Jesus. I’m looking forward to meeting many of them and hanging out discovering what Father has been doing among them to teach them how to live in his love.
I often hear people refer to what I write and teach as the Grace Message or the Love Message. I know people often need a simple tag to put on things, but a part of me cringes whenever I hear the sum of my life being reduced to a message. I have to choke down those internal screams that want me to to pound that table and shout, “It’s not a message, it’s a way to live!” The joy of this journey comes not in convincing ourselves that God loves us but in actually learning to live as one of his beloved children in the earth!
I have the same reaction when anyone refers to marriage as an institution. My marriage is not an institution. It’s a relationship of growing love and respect that yields the incredible fruits of deep joy, hilarious laughter, insightful conversations, and a consistent friend and partner through the joys and trials of living in this age. This relationship has been hard won and grace-filled over 35 years of learning to care for her more than I care about myself. (I’m still learning that one!) She is the greatest joy I have in this age.
That’s why when people talk about what I share as the the Grace Message, I want to pull my hair out. If this was only a message, how empty would it be? Jesus has not invited me to teach a doctrine about God’s love or his grace. He has asked me to help people experience the reality of a growing relationship with him deeply centered in his Father’s affection for us. That is not just an intellectual proposition; it is a revelation that allows us to know him in increasing reality.
And as you grow to know him, you’ll realize that he is not a “warm fuzzy” grandpa in the sky. He is the transcendent, holy, all-powerful God of the universe who has offered to be my Abba, the most affectionate term that a first century toddler would call his or her dad. Yes, his affection is outrageous. But that affection also seeks to win me into increasing arenas of light so that I can be transformed by truth, not just coddled in my deceptions, lies, and broken coping mechanisms. That’s why I rarely use the term “unconditional love”, not because I think God’s love has conditions, but because the reference is so static. God’s affection is transformational, allowing me to know him and also changing me at the core of my being.
The invitation to live loved is not to buy into a new doctrine but to embrace a new way of living. I can increasingly live inside the Father’s affection instead of all the fears, anxieties and ambitions of my flesh. It is both joy and freedom of the highest order. And so can you! It is not something you turn on or off in a moment; it is a lifetime journey of being shaped a bit more every day as you learn to live at home in him. Go, live loved! Ask him to help you because this is way above what any of us can produce on our own.
By the way, the picture above is courtesy of some dear friends of mine whom I saw recently in Minnesota. They gave me a Living Loved graphic for my wall that Sara and I love. I asked them if others could get one if they wanted it and they told they could. You can get just a graphic for your wall, or you can order one on a tile like the one above. If you’re interested in having something like this in your home, or giving it as a gift, you can visit their website for more information.