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. (Ephesians 3:18, NLT)
I heard a story of a mom who died of cancer, and she wrote each of her sons a letter to read after her death. Each letter began with “You were my favorite.” She then encouraged her sons and told them what she saw in them as their strengths. In reality, they were all three her favorite. She loved them each dearly, but she loved them each individually.
As a young Christian at the age of seven, I felt God’s love so powerfully in my life. I felt special and called and loved. I never doubted that God had a plan and purpose for my life. He loved me. He forgave me. And I felt like the most blessed person in the world. That amazing love made me want to share His love with anyone who would listen.
Then, one day someone told me that God loved everyone the same, and that no one was special. As a young child that hit me in a way that changed how I walked with God. I understand now that what they said is true. Just as that mom loved each of her sons equally, God loves each of us equally. None of us is above the other or better than the other. His amazing love is unconditional and reaches to us all. But as a child I understood that to mean no one is special. We are all the same. It caused what had been a very personal relationship with God to become more of a distant faith. It hurt. I felt very “un-special.” I wasn’t sure I even had a real calling on my life. Maybe I was just arrogant and self-focused.
Thankfully, God did not leave me there. He is always helping us grow in wisdom and knowledge. Recently, I was watching TV and saw a commercial for the series The Chosen, and the actor playing Jesus was walking away from the camera but turned back and looked over his shoulder as though looking back at a friend, and I began to cry. God reminded me what He’d been teaching me all these years, and it still made me cry with joy.
Yes, God loves each and every one of us equally. He died for everyone. He rose so that everyone could have new life, forgiveness, and freedom. In that sense, the prettier people or more accomplished people do not get more of His love or approval. The hurting, defeated addict on the street doesn’t get any less of His love. He truly loves each of us equally.
That is a blessing!
But as that actor looked over his shoulder with a look like it was meant just for me or just for the person he was looking back at, Jesus knows me–personally, individually. And that relationship is special. It is just for me and Him. I have a special relationship with Jesus that is just ours.
It is a blessing!
Like a child in a healthy family has a relationship with his or her dad that is theirs—that is special to them, we each have a special, individual relationship with God. It doesn’t mean the relationships that father has with the other children is any less special. But each relationship is its own entity—its own special bond.
We should rejoice in both truths. Like the verse in Ephesians 3:18 says, I hope we can understand just how wide, long, high, and deep His love is for each of us. It is okay to feel special in Christ’s love because it is special. Your relationship with God is unique. He knows you personally, and He is working in your life in a very personal way. And we are not special in the sense that we are no better or worse than anyone else in God’s eyes. He sees Jesus’ righteousness when He looks at us. He sees each of us the same.
If you are a parent, you probably understand this. I look at my four children, and I adore them. I love them as my family. They are our identity as a family. And then, I look at each one separately, and I adore each one. I see their gifts and talents, their personalities, and their struggles. I love them so much.
In today’s Church, we have two thoughts on this regarding the Gospel. Some are teaching and preaching a humanistic, self-focused “gospel” that almost makes Jesus either just our example or, in some cases, our slave. They do not teach of Him as God the way the Bible teaches it.
Then, there’s the other extreme where we hear constantly, “The Gospel is not about you!” I understand that God’s plan is not all about me. I understand that David was a real man who fought a real Goliath, and God defeated Goliath through David. That story is not about me. However, even though the Gospel is about Jesus and the fulfillment of God’s plan for the world, it is also about me. You see, without the Gospel, I would not be saved. I would not have hope. I would not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. So, yes, the Gospel is much, much bigger than me, but it is also small enough to include me.
That’s the God we serve. His love and provision for mankind is also His love and provision for each and every individual who will open his or her heart to Him and let Him be Lord.
It’s both. And both truths are wonderful!