While preparing for the sermon I read a familiar story in John’s Gospel. While reading the lines, emotion overwhelmed me, tears blurring my vision, my heart full. Why? I sensed the unbelievable, deep love of Jesus for me! One little person, barely a speck in the universe, but known to Him, not because I am good or great, but because I exist. The story is found in the 8th chapter.
“Jesus … appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11, NIV)
Jesus did not see a sin, He saw a person and loved her to life! What did His compassion feel like to that woman who was dragged into the eye of the world, subjected to public humiliation, and threatened with death? What did she see in His eyes when He looked at her? The word “love” never appears in the passage but it is written all over it. It moves me!
You, dear friend, are a person of incredible worth to God. He does not see you as someone valued for your skills, your gifts, your attractiveness, your intelligence, or your resources. He sees YOU and loves you. His love is described with a phrase in the Old Testament where we learn that He loves us as ‘the apple of my eye.‘ That expression, in the Hebrew text, is literally about the pupil at the center of the eye. When there is an intense connection or attraction, two people will look directly at one another. They see a reflection of themselves in those loving eyes.
Thus, to be the “apple of someone’s eye” was to see that your image is dancing in the eyes of that person. God gazes at me and I am so close to Him that I become the little man reflected on the pupil of His eye! David, in his pursuit of the love of God, prayed using that idiom – “Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:7-8, NIV)
Using the language of romance, the Scripture describes our relationship with our God. “No more will anyone call you Rejected, and your country will no more be called Ruined. You’ll be called Hephzibah (My Delight), and your land Beulah (Married), Because God delights in you and your land will be like a wedding celebration. For as a young man marries his virgin bride, so your builder marries you, And as a bridegroom is happy in his bride, so your God is happy with you.” (Isaiah 62:4-5, The Message) I remember the giddy love I felt as I gazed into Bev’s eyes at our wedding, when she slipped her hand into mine, and we turned to face life together. God loves me (and you) like that!
Ah friend, so much of life conspires to steal our worth, to turn us into a cog in the machine, devalued, feeling something less than beloved. How I pray, with St. Paul, that “you have the power (ability) to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT)
Nothing in the world is better than being loved. Poets have written countless words to celebrate love. Songs are sung about being in love! Granted, most of those words are about human love, about romantic attraction, or about sexual stirrings of desire. God’s love is even better – of selfless quality, of great depth, and extended even when the one loved is still resisting His love.
Meditate on the word of the True Father, who is gazing on you with deep love – holding your reflection in His eye!
When you accept, in faith, the truth of His love for you, you will be freed to love those around you, with an extravagant love that does not calculate, manipulate, or even seek reciprocal love.
Here’s the Word to take with you today…. “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NLT)
Lord, I come to You,
Let my heart be changed, renewed;
Flowing from the grace
That I’ve found in You;
And Lord, I’ve come to know,
The weaknesses I see in me,
Will be stripped away
By the pow’r of Your love.
Lord, unveil my eyes,
Let me see You face to face,
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me.
Lord, renew my mind,
As Your will unfolds in my life,
In living ev’ry day
In the pow’r of Your love.
Hold me close,
Let Your love surround me;
Bring me near,
Draw me to Your side;
And as I wait,
I’ll rise up like the eagle,
And I will soar with You,
Your Spirit leads me on
In the pow’r of Your love.
Geofff Bullock© 1992 Word Music, Inc.
CCLI License No. 810055