The difference between "God is love" and "God loves me"

A couple days ago I wrote about how we want God and resist God at the same time. Today I want to write about one of the ways we do this.

Have you seen the Free Hugs Campaign? A man holds up a FREE HUGS sign, and he gives a hug to whomever will accept one. He can't discriminate between people. He would hug the bouncy soccer mom, the homeless person, the arrogant business power broker, the meth addict, the depressed man, the harried woman -- any and all people get hugged.



We can imagine God this way. He loves indiscriminately. Whoever will receive his love... gets to receive his love.

Now imagine the scene in a different way. At different times, you are like each of the people walking by. You are sometimes bouncy... sometimes homeless... sometimes arrogant... sometimes addicted... sometimes depressed... sometimes harried... 

God loves you in all those states. Even when you are like the person who walks by and says, "No thanks." In fact, he loves you when you are like the police officer who is trying to shut down the flow of God's love.

For most of us, it's not so hard to accept that God is love. It's hard to accept that God loves me. But if we stop at the theological statement that God is love and don't continue into the relational reality that God loves me -- and loves me all the time -- then we put up a barrier between us and God. That's how we can desire God and resist him at the same time.
In the words of David Benner, "It is not the fact of being loved unconditionally that is life changing. It is the risky experience of allowing myself to be loved unconditionally."

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