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You Are The One Jesus Loves

17May2012

Thanks to Philip Yancey and his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” I found my sermon insight.  Yancey wrote,

“Not long ago I received in the mail a postcard from a friend that had on it only six words, “I am the one Jesus loves.” I smiled when I saw the return address, for my strange friend excels at these pious slogans. When I called him, though, he told me the slogan came from the author and speaker Brennan Manning. At a seminar, Manning referred to Jesus’ closest friend on earth, the disciple named John, identified in the Gospels as “the one Jesus loved.” Manning said, “If John were to be asked, ‘What is your primary identity in life?’ he would not reply, ‘I am a disciple, an apostle, an evangelist, an author of one of the four Gospels,’ but rather, ‘I am the one Jesus loves.'”

What would it mean, I ask myself, if I too came to the place where I saw my primary identity in life as “the one Jesus loves”? How differently would I view myself at the end of a day?

Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?”

In John’s Gospel, Jesus declared, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Abide in my love.”  He goes on to talk about His joy that is in us, that our joy may be complete.

I am identified as pastor, father, husband, brother, son, cousin, nephew, customer, resident, consumer, and so many, many more things.  Whenever any of those identities become my primary identity, whenever I let any of those become the starting point for who I am, my joy is not complete.  That is not to say that I do not find joy as a father or husband; but rather that my joy is incomplete.  Those two identities are sometimes at odds with one another (what parent and spouse has not felt pulled in different directions at the same time when our loved ones need our attention?) which leads to incomplete joy.  Sometimes it leads to downright frustration.

What would your day look like if you began by accepting that your first identity is The One Jesus Loves?  You are the one Jesus loves.  You are the one for whom Jesus lived, died, and rose again.  You are the one Jesus loves.  How would trusting that identity – The One Jesus Loves – affect your other identities (parent, spouse, child, employee, neighbor, etc.)?

I challenged my congregation this past Sunday; not only by asking them what would their lives be like if they first identified themselves as The One Jesus Loves, but I also asked them to write out, “You Are The One Jesus Loves” and put it on their mirror, so each day they begin by seeing themselves and their identity in Christ.

Pastors don’t usually know how people respond to calls for action (if such a call for action is even present or should be present – that’s a whole separate topic), but I was delighted when one of the college students in our congregation posted this picture on Twitter:

 

So my challenge to you is the same – make yourself that sign, put it on your mirror – “I am the one Jesus loves!”, beginning each day with that as your primary identity.

KMF@CCD

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