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“This is the One I Love.”

April 6, 2009

I’m a question-asker by nature. I was that kid in school whose hand was almost always the first one waving in the air. I was the one who annoyed everyone else by stretching out orientations because I just needed one more bit of information for my extremely organized notes.

I’m that guy.

I went to the BSHOP (previously discussed in this post) on Saturday night and settled down barefoot in a corner of the Tabernacle, journal and Bible neatly in front of me, ready for the Holy Spirit to give me a significant experience I could blog about (embarrassing, but true — I now think in potential blog posts). My last visit was marked by my unsettled heart, full of questions, and I wanted tonight to be different. I didn’t want to keep asking questions of God, I wanted to just be quiet for awhile. But in the first few minutes I sat down, even without asking the question, He gave me an answer.

“This is the one I love.”

I heard these words on some song recording on the loudspeaker that was filling air until the service began. (You know that thing that worship leaders do, where they talk during silences in a song because if they don’t, people might get confused and forget that they’re in church.)

“This is the one I love.”

There, he said it again. Sheesh, okay, I get it. You love me and think I’m just swell. But as the words began sowing themselves in my heart, I realized that it wasn’t an affirmation of how God feels. It was an affirmation of who I am.

I ask the question, “Who am I?” all the time, many times without realizing it. Each time I search out definitions for myself, by what I do, where I work, what neighborhood I live in, what kind of food I buy, I begin believing the lie that this is who I am. I’m a girl who works for a nonprofit, who lives in a quirky neighborhood within walking distance of my favorite bakery, who uses reusable shopping bags and drinks fair-trade coffee. And I’ve tricked myself into thinking that this is who I am.

God’s definition of me is much simpler.

“This is the one I love.”

I have to imagine that if I ran into Jesus and Paul at the Sparrows, having coffee, Jesus wouldn’t introduce me like this, “This is Caroline — she’s nice and polite, a little selfish sometimes. She leads a House Church and is a solid 10% tither. She buys organic laundry detergent, and tries too hard most of the time but I still love her.” If Jesus was going to introduce me, I think that He would break into a big smile, look at me and say, “Paul, this is the one I love.”

I recently read The Shack just to see what all the hype was about, and actually ended up enjoying it a lot. The different personas of God (too hard to explain, but attempt to follow my example) include a big black woman named Papa. Every time that Mack, the main character, mentions a friend or family member, Papa would smile, and say “I’m exceptionally fond of that one.” As a human who play favorites whether I admit it or not, I have a hard time understanding this. How can God’s love can be so uniquely complete in each person that it defines who they are before everything else? That’s some serious love.

A few years back, Reverend Jerry Falwell gave what turned out to be his last print interview to a Liberty University student named Kevin Roose (who wrote a book called The Unlikely Disciple, which I also just read and is fantastic). One of Kevin’s questions to Falwell was what he wants to hear God say when he arrives in Heaven. “That’s easy,” Falwell replied. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Well Jerry, I’m going to have to disagree with you there (not that we agree on much anyway, but hey, not the point). I want Jesus to run to me, tears streaming down His face, and catch me up in a hug that lifts me off my feet and to hear Him whisper this:

“This is the one I love.”
(Then maybe “Welcome home, good and faithful servant,” since as Victor pointed out, it IS Biblical.)

I don’t protest that God wants us to live righteous lives, defined by service and love, but I don’t think we can let even that define who we are to Him. If God would look at me and say, “This is my good and faithful servant,” it feels too much like works-based salvation — that He loves me for what I do, not who I am. When His answer is “This is the one I love,” it reminds me that I didn’t earn His love or grace through what I did. He loves me because I am.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in Him. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or a Muslim or a politician or a bag boy at a grocery store. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never tithed a dime in your life or if you’ve given your entire life up to dig wells in Rwanda. When God looks at you, this is always His first answer:

“This is the one I love.”

Now when that love becomes real to a person, when it creeps in and begins breaking your heart and asking everything of you…that’s when our actions and lives begin to follow suit to what God has always believed about you.

“This is the one I love.”

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2009 12:58 pm

    I think Falwell says that because that’s the biblical answer. But we do have eternity, so I imagine he’ll say all sorts of other things as well, including “This is the one I love.” And hopefully a couple million times, too!

  2. Caroline permalink*
    April 6, 2009 1:23 pm

    Yes, you’re right. I believe it’s in Matthew? While I don’t disagree that I’d also like to hear that, I suppose I’m just mushier and like the idea of hearing “This is the one I love” first. 🙂

    There will be much time to talk — maybe I’ll get to have coffee with Jesus and Paul after all. 😉

  3. April 6, 2009 1:39 pm

    I hope you like the strong Middle-Eastern stuff. 🙂 I wonder if they had creamer back then?

  4. Caroline permalink*
    April 6, 2009 1:50 pm

    Ohhh I like the strong stuff. Have you ever been to Marie Catrib’s? Best Turkish coffee in Grand Rapids — I drank nearly a half-pot of it once (usually enough for two or three people) and was shaking for like two hours.

    It was awesome.
    Mmmmmmmmm.

  5. April 6, 2009 2:11 pm

    I actually don’t usually drink coffee (the mocha I had at Sparrow’s was the first bit of coffee I’ve had in a long time) so Turkish coffee would probably kill me. You had a half pot of that stuff?! I’d have probably gone into epileptic convulsions.

    Several people have told me, though, that Marie Catrib’s is amazing. It’s a bummer being a non-coffee drinker in Eastown, what with all these great places. I’m trying to get into tea, though.

  6. Caroline permalink*
    April 6, 2009 2:40 pm

    Marie’s also has stellar food and tea. 🙂 Just saying…you should try it. The sandwiches alone are the first thing I’m hitting when Lent is over — it’s already planned!

  7. Amanda permalink
    April 6, 2009 8:34 pm

    Can I be your date for sandwiches at marie catribs?? I had their apples and spice french toast this past weekend….mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  8. Caroline permalink*
    April 6, 2009 8:36 pm

    I wish I could allow you that opportunity, but I already promised my first MC experience post-Lent to my roommate Rachel. 🙂

  9. Amanda permalink
    April 6, 2009 10:34 pm

    ahahahah, well then we’ll just add it to our list for another time. 🙂

  10. RachelPoo permalink
    April 7, 2009 9:15 am

    this is great – His House did a series Spring 2008 where we went through 1 John (it was called 1 John, Then Us 🙂

    anyway, matt talked about how John referred to himself as “the one that Jesus loved” and he wasnt being pretentious about it, but he just realzed what he meant to Christ. So, for the rest of the year, the hospitality team would write something extra on the nametags while everyone came in

    Rachel
    The one that jesus loves

    🙂

  11. Caroline permalink*
    April 7, 2009 9:47 am

    Thanks dear. 🙂 It’s such a wonderful message, isn’t it? And I like that HH did that with nametags — it’s one of those things that people can’t hear enough.

    I know I need to be reminded of it pretty much constantly.

    Caroline
    The one that Jesus loves
    😀

  12. Misterwrite permalink
    April 10, 2009 9:27 am

    Very very good thoughts! Thank you.

    (You know, you’ll also be having cofee with Jerry Falwell. Should be an interesting conversation)

    Mike

  13. Caroline permalink*
    April 10, 2009 8:02 pm

    Jerry probably won’t be able to annoy me in Heaven. I’m sure we’ll be buds. 🙂

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