How Do You Know God Loves You?
I don't know if we can do this on a blog, but I would like to try. Hey, we can always say it didn't go well.
If there is a God, and we affirm that the nature of that God is Love, how do you know God loves you?
This is a personal question, not so much a theological one. You can all comment as Anonymous if it feels too revealing to share your personal experiences of feeling the presence of a loving God. Let me challenge you to respond from personal experience and feeling, and try if you can to avoid lengthy quotes from philosophers or precis of others' arguments. Just for fun.
Do we know that God loves us because we love one another so much, and are we necessarily extrapolating from that?
Are we muddling along in the night, feeling that it's *possible* that God loves us because we are able to feel and experience love ourselves, and it feels so miraculous?
If we don't believe in God, do we locate the source of love somewhere in particular in the human being, or beyond? Again, I hope you will muse from your own intuition even as you may share part of a philosophical explanation or school of thought.
For liberal Christians, what does it mean to you personally that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son for us? For me, as a Humanist Christian, it means that God gives us human brothers and sisters who are willing to teach us the ways of Love even at the cost of their own lives. God grants them the strength to live out their calling so that we may know that life can be just as precious brief and deep as it is long and full in years. It is perhaps the lowest part of my christology, and it changes frequently so don't quote me on that.
These questions come from a pastor at rest, who truly wonders who she is when she is not filling her days with the worries and plans of ministry. One of the reasons I am so assiduously protecting my vacation this year is because I am trying to grapple with the question of whether God loves me when I am not at work for others. On an intellectual level, I have faith that this is so. If someone put that question to me, i.e., "Does God love me even when I am not in active service to others," I would certainly answer in the enthusiastic affirmative and feel pain that they should even wonder such a thing.
To believe in, and perhaps even experience, God's love for me even when I am non-productive, is my spiritual practice this summer. It is my spiritual practice every summer, and this year I would like to come away with something more than several weeks of confusion and low-grade depression. I feel no shame in sharing this with you. I have to believe it is a common dysfunction among many caregivers. For all you cute, protective and pastoral types out there, don't worry about me. I'm FINE. I go through this every year. It's not as big an existential crisis as it sounds, just a constant growing edge and a genuine question.
Take a good look at that cub's face. I could look at that all day. Is that not a perfect creation? Is that not a being to cherish? Do you think Creation delights in us in that way when the first breath is breathed into us?
How do you know God loves you? Or, if that feels too personal, how do you know in your heart that God loves us? If an obviously suffering person sat next to you in church and put that question to you, how would you answer him or her, without referring him or her to a book, a counselor, a pastor, or the suicide hotline? How would you answer this question, from your heart?
Me, I'm just going to look at that lion cub for a few more hours.