1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
I am reading a book by Bob Goff right now called Everybody Always. The basic premise of the book is that Jesus told us to love everybody always...the weird people, the difficult people...the same kinds of people Jesus loved (everybody). Anyhow, if I've spoken to you recently I've probably already told you to read this book and if I haven't told you yet, please read it. I started it thinking I already knew most of what he would discuss but somehow God's love is becoming even clearer.
I take part and serve in a weekly Bible study in my community. The first day of study, I was tasked with greeting the ladies by the classroom for opening. I smiled, waved, and hugged my familiar friends. It was like the first day of school with everyone in their best clothes and some even nervous because they didn't know anyone.
At one point, a woman came around the corner and came running down the long hallway toward me. She ran toward me with open arms and gave me the tightest hug, pulled back and looked straight into my face and exclaimed, “Your hair is just fabulous!”
I stammered, “Oh thanks, I just got it cut!”
So what’s the big deal? I have absolutely no idea who she is! To my knowledge we don’t attend the same church, we aren’t friends on Facebook, we are different ages and don’t have mutual friends. My husband jokes that everyone knows me and I know everyone because we live in the town where I was born but I swear to you this woman and I have never met. I tried to discreetly peek at her name tag but it turned away as I looked. She hugged me and loved me like she knew me and I didn't know what to think of that.
She loved me like she knew me and what I'm learning is that's how God's love is and that He wants us to love others like we know them. It's nice to do good things like give money and hand out meals and build homes. There's nothing wrong with those things at all! But deep down, we all want to know that someone sees us and knows us.
Yesterday was Bible study day again. I had not seen or run into this gal since the first week of study. After small groups, I made my way to hear the message given by our teacher and it happened again. Except this time, she found me in the middle of a row tightly set seats, sat down, put an arm around me and hugged the dickens out me again before leaping up to find her friend. I clumsily patted at her arm as she left as if to say, "I love you, too." But I still didn't catch a glimpse of her name tag and she was gone immediately after the teaching time.
Is she crazy? Maybe. But God has recently impressed upon me that I’m the crazy one for not understanding why someone would love me even if they don’t know me. Does it really matter if she knows my name or about my family or how many kids I have? No! It's ok for someone to love us even if they don't know us!
I think this is how we treat God. We wonder how could He love us if He doesn't really know us? We somehow think that someone has to have gone to school with us, worked in the same office or sat on the same sidelines with us in order to know us. Moreover, many of us are pretty sure if someone really knew who we were they wouldn't love us or even like us at all.
Many of us know the standard "God knows you and loves you" verses like Psalm 139:13 which says: For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb OR Luke 12:7 which says: Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. But even with the head knowledge of those Scriptures we are surprised by God's love. We are surprised by the genuine, heartfelt kindness shown to us by our fellow flesh-bearers who are often used by God to reveal Himself. We are prone to question love instead of simply receiving it.
The surprise to me as I read the Everybody, Always book is that I thought I was going to learn how to better give away the love that Jesus placed in my heart. The reality is that I'm learning better how to receive it.