When my wife Kelly asks me, “Do you love me?” I know something is off in our relationship. That’s not the kind of question that gets asked just because. She doesn’t ask me that so she can hear me poetically describe my love for her using the Song of Solomon—saying her hair is like a flock of goats or her cheeks like pomegranates. She’s asking because she doesn’t feel loved.
My initial reaction is, “But of course I love you!” and then, usually, I get defensive. I immediately start making a list of all the ways I show her on a daily basis that I love her. Now, 1 time out of 10, she is asking the question because she has indeed failed to see me loving her and that list of mine helps. (As for the other 9 times out of 10, I end up discovering that I haven’t been doing a good job of pursuing her.)
I found myself at the beginning of this year asking Jesus, “Do you love me?” Now, I know enough about Jesus and I’m self-aware enough to know that 10 times out of 10 the problem in our relationship isn’t that he hasn’t been doing a good job of pursuing me, but that I haven’t noticed the pursuit.
How does that happen? Well, I think it’s pretty easy to miss if we aren’t intentionally looking.
A few weeks ago in the sermon I gave about the Magi coming to see Jesus, I said that we can always attribute things to natural circumstances, but if we do that our faith will never grow. That is true of Jesus’ pursuit of us as well. We can say that an out-of-blue call from a friend encouraging us when we felt like giving up was just that friend being thoughtful, or we can say “Thank you Jesus for knowing I needed a friend today.”
Maybe that passage we read in our devotions that spoke directly to a fear we are currently facing was just a coincidence. Or we can thank the one who is called the Word for speaking what our hearts most need to hear.
There’s a list of all the ways Jesus shows us on a daily basis that he loves us, we just have to see it.
We’re going to spend this year together in the Gospels and I can’t wait. Because it’s in the Gospels that we see Jesus so clearly. We see what being pursued by love looks like. Of course we see this in what Jesus did on the cross. But in the Gospels we also get to see how Jesus loved in the seemingly little moments of life. It’s often in those seemingly little moments with family and close friends that most of us reveal our true selves. Jesus is no exception. By spending a year reading about all the little and big moments in his life, we will see Jesus as he really is.
Albert Einstein, who was not a follower of Jesus, said this after reading through the Gospels: “I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene…Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrase-mongers, however artful…No man can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word.”
I’m convinced that, like Einstein, any of us who join in on the Gospel Reading Plan this year will experience a sense of wonder about Jesus. But my prayer for us (myself included) is that we would hear Jesus say, “But of course, I love you” and know he really means it.
We are fully trusting that by spending 2018, as an entire church, reading through the Gospels and taking more time with Jesus, that we will begin to look more and love more like God. The Gospel Reading Plan starts Monday, January 15th (but you can jump in at any time!) and is available here.
Zach Van Dyke is the Herndon Campus Pastor. He likes lots of things, like Disney and really good ranch and his incredible wife and almost-six children, but he really really likes getting to tell people that it's all about grace. You can reach out to him at email@example.com.