I am loved, I am loved
I can risk loving you
For the One who knows me best
Loves me most
I am loved, you are loved
Won’t you please take my hand?
We are free to love each other
We are loved
I first heard these words in 1978 as a college freshman and an employee of the couple who wrote the song. My job was nothing glamorous–I just filled orders in the warehouse.
These lyrics are simple words. To this day, they not only make sense, but still provide a much needed concept of the kind of love shown to us through Jesus Christ.
Sitting in my church each weekend, you will find far too many people who encountered a church in their past that made them feel as if they were unlovable and that it was a permanent condition. For as long as I live, I will never understand why so many churches, church people, and pastors are so afraid of love and grace.
Philip Yancey has written a powerful book entitled What’s So Amazing About Grace? If you haven’t read it, please do as soon as you can.
I’ve often thought about writing a book called Why Are We So Afraid of Grace? What happened in our culture and our congregations that made it so important to judge and condemn? I suppose it is the age-old dilemma of “loving the sinner and hating the sin.”
My goodness–we have never gotten that one right! I’ve been there, too. I fully understand and agree with the need to communicate the truth of Scripture that calls us to live differently, to leave the old ways behind, and to be obedient to the teachings that are easier to memorize than obey.
I have found that people do not change easily or quickly. In the church, we have often assumed it is a transaction that takes place and suddenly the old temptations are gone. I’ve seen my share of people who did leave an altar of confession and commitment to find immediate relief or strength to stop a destructive habit or pattern. But, more frequently, I see people leave an altar and start, as Eugene Peterson has written, “a long obedience in the same direction.”
I have found that patience with a new believer is necessary. The one-on-one discipleship that takes place–whether alongside a close friend and mentor or across the table from a Christian counselor–seems to provide a steady process that leads a lost one to full devotion to Christ in every aspect of life.
It has been my experience that many of my friends who were far from God needed an extra measure of grace from me over a long period of time. I never felt I was condoning their sinful habits, but rather I was holding out hope to them as someone who believed in them, loved them, and knew that once they got a taste of the unlimited grace and the love of Jesus, they would never be the same.
I’ve learned that once I’ve claimed victory over a battle with the enemy, I am better able to love and have compassion for those still fighting the awful battle of darkness and loneliness that comes when we depend on the temporary highs of a very low life.
When I am able to comprehend how much I have been loved, I can take the risk of loving others who may not love me back. I can take the risk of loving others who might find it surprising that I’m willing to be a friend.
This next part of the song is one of my favorites: “For the One who knows me best, loves me most.”
Think about that!
God knows every thought. The Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 94:11, “The Lord knows our thoughts”...“he knows they are worthless.” The One who knows everything about me not only chooses to love me, but uses me for his purposes.
When my grandsons come over to our house, I will do whatever they want to do. One of the things they love to do is get into Pops’ car, sit in Pops’ lap, and drive the one street of our neighborhood from one end to the other, over and over.
One of the first times we got in the car, I shocked them by starting the car and letting them sit on my lap and drive. My music system happened to be playing “I Am Loved.” Now, every time the boys come over and want to drive around the neighborhood on my lap, the first thing we must do before we leave the driveway is turn on the song “I Am Loved.”
My family often accuses me of indoctrinating them to my favorite music–the music of Bill and Gloria Gaither–but the boys have no idea who wrote the song. They have no clue how much the writers of the song mean to me. All they know is there’s a song that plays in Pops’ car that says, “I am loved.”
They can’t get enough of it. When the song ends, they always say, “Play it again, Pops!” I am all too eager to do whatever they ask me to do.
What is it about a three-year-old and a five-year-old who hear the words “I am loved” and want to hear them over and over? I think I know.
There is something in all of us that longs to know we are okay. There’s a hunger in every heart that is never satisfied until someone catches a glimpse of the reality that he is loved.
In those moments when someone doesn’t feel loved, there’s at least a song that reminds her she is loved. In those moments when we don’t feel lovable, there’s a song that says we are. Whether we are three or five or eighty-three or ninety-five, we all crave the reminder that we are not just lovable but, in fact, loved by the One who knows everything about us and still chooses to love us like no one else can.
It took me a while to grasp the concept of that kind of love, but once it captured my heart, it really didn’t seem like much of a risk to love people who may not love me back. Truth be known, I’ve known many people who are astounded by the fact that I love them. They are astounded by the fact that God does not find them disgusting, but rather finds them as one he wants to rescue.
“If you had one hundred sheep and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders.” Luke 15:1-8
So, let me say it one more time: you are loved! The One who made you, the One who knows you better than anyone, loves you more than anyone else ever could.
Take the risk. Let him love you, and then let him give you the ability to love others you never thought you could love. Remember, we are free to love each other.