by Angie Thomas
Jesus lovingly revealed to me today during a recent Who Am I in Christ lecture that I need to have a DTR with him.1 Yep, we need to have a “Defining the Relationship” talk. It is sort of ironic because if you were to ask me, I would say that I have been in a very “deep” relationship with Him now for 15 years or more. What more would need to be defined in our relationship? I love him, He loves me, signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours, Lord.
But as Laurie was sharing about what would it look like if we were really to believe His love for us, I had an “aha” moment. I often push Christ’s love away and minimize it because I am not willing to respond to it. His love is so deep, so passionate, so lavish if I were to truly believe it and receive it, it demands a response and perhaps not the response I would like to offer. A radical love demands a radical response, and honestly, at times I am not sure I am ready for this type of relationship with Him. Lavish love seems so, umm… extreme. I am not sure I am ready to “extremely” love Jesus. I mean my mouth might say that I am, but what do my actions show?
What if he asked me to let go of the Nursing Certification I worked so hard for? What if he asked me to work with Him in helping to heal people spiritually and never allowed me to go back into nursing and physically healing people? These are questions I have been wrestling with lately. It would be pretty extreme, especially since I am still paying on school loans from my Nursing Certification. But is Jesus worth it? What if he asked me to share the gospel with my neighbor who I have known now for 10 years and every conversation I have had with her about Jesus and God has been vague and unclear. What if?
What would be the extreme love response He might be asking of you? Perhaps He is asking you to leave a relationship with a guy who is not a believer. Perhaps He is asking you to sacrifice sleep for time with Him, even though you know you are a person who needs 7-8 hours of sleep? What if he wanted you to sacrificially extend grace and forgive a family member who is difficult to love? What if He was asking you to take a step of faith in your job situation?
All of this talk of radical love sort of reminded me of an awkward talk I once had with a guy who I was dating (before I was married:) who really liked me and I really didn’t reciprocate the feelings. We had a DTR and he went on and on about how much he loved me and thought I was amazing, blah, blah, blah. As I sat listening to it, I honestly felt repulsed. I didn’t have mutual feelings for him, so I sort of felt like barfing instead of reveling in his words. It made me squirm.
I think in a way I have had a similar response to Jesus. The “He loves me passionately, sacrificially, completely” rhetoric sort of makes me squirm, because if I am honest I don’t know if I reciprocate that radical love towards Him. Sometimes, I think I would rather have a business contract with God rather than a covenant signed in blood. That way I could agree to all the terms and conditions up front. The “sign your life away” deal Jesus says defines His disciples is a little unnerving. But, this teaching is repeated in all the Gospels: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it‘” (Matt 16:23-25; cf. Mark 8:34-38; Luke 14:25-35; John 12:20-26).
This might seem discouraging, but really it is a reason to celebrate. Without the grace and love Jesus pours out to us, we could never love Him in this radical way. But John tells us, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). He is the initiator and perfecter of our love and faith! This is reason to do the Happy Dance, girls! It’s not about us or our performance. We are completely incapable of loving him in this radical, sacrificial way. But as we confess and cry out to Him in our weaknesses, He is able to transform us.
I am so thankful for my recent DTR with Jesus. It has helped me to again cry out for a completely surrendered life and love for Him. What about you? Don’t be afraid. His perfect love casts out fear (cf. 1 John 4:18). Be honest with Him and He will do an amazing work in your heart, enabling you by His grace and Spirit to love Him in the same radical way He has loved you.
1In the lecture, Laurie asked the ladies to have a DTR with the Lord.