Beloved By God
The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning, pgs 37-40
“God created us for union with Himself . This is the original purpose for our lives. And God is defined as love (1 John 4:16). Living in an awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves. Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence. It is not merely a lofty thought. It is the name by which God knows us, and the way He relates to us (Revelations 2:17).
If I must seek an identity outside of myself, then the accumulation of wealth, power, and honors allures me. Or I may find my center of gravity in interpersonal relationships. When I draw life and meaning from any other source than my belovedness, I am spiritually dead. When God gets relegated to second place behind any bauble or trinket, I have swapped the pearl of great price for painted fragments of glass.
“Who am I?” asked Thomas Merton and he responded, “I am one loved by Christ.”
Mike Yaconelli, cofounder of Youth Specialities, tells about the time when dejected and demoralized, he made a five-day retreat to a religious community for mentally and physically handicapped, under the preaching of Henri Nowen.
Yaconelli tells his story:
“Finally I accepted my brokenness…I knew I was broken. I knew I was a sinner. I knew I continually disappointed God, but I could never accept that part of me. It was part of me that embarrassed me. I continually felt the need to apologize, to run from my weakness, to deny who I was and concentrate on who I should be. I was broken, yes, but I was continually trying to never be broken again–or at least get to the place where I was very seldom broken…
At L’Arche, it became very clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith. I came to see that it was in my brokenness, in my powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus made me strong. It was in the acceptance of my lack of faith that God could give me faith. It was in the embracing of my brokenness that I could identify with others’ brokenness. It was my role to identify with others’ pain, not relieve it. Ministry was sharing, not dominating; understanding, not theologizing; caring, not fixing…
There is an anticipation, an electricity about God’s presence in my life that I have never experienced before. I Can only tell you that for the first time in my life I can hear Jesus whisper to me every day, “Michael, I love you. You are beloved.” And for some strange reason, that seems to be enough.”
We are looking not at some spiritual giant of the Christian trandition, but at an ordinary evangelical man who has encountered the God of ordinary people. The God who grabs scalawags and ragamuffins by the scruff of the neck and raises them up to seat them with the princes and princesses of His people. Is this miracle enough for anybody? Or has the thunder of ‘God so loved the world so much’ been so muffled by the roar of religious rhetoric that we are deaf to the word that God could have tender feelings for us?
Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This it true self. Every other identity is an illusion.”