The day is dawning, sunrays kiss my face as I awake. I stretch and wiggle my toes. One of my favorite thoughts snuggles in: I am the focus of His affection. His love is a spotlight on me. Every. Single. Day. I can feel the “hug” of this truth. God’s affection has nothing to do with who I am, and yet everything to do with who I am. It also has everything to do with who He is: Love. From the moment he dreamt of me, he has loved me.
I can’t ruin his love for me by my failure.
I can’t earn his love.
I can’t secure it by my good deeds.
I cannot ruin his love.
I wander over to the coffee-pot, pour myself a cup, and open my bible to the dog-eared corner of Matthew 26:48.
Judas quickly stepped up to Jesus and said, “Shalom, Rabbi,” and he kissed him on both cheeks.
“My beloved friend,” Jesus said, “is this why you’ve come?”
Then the armed men seized Jesus to arrest him.
Jesus called Judas his beloved friend.
Judas. The one who sold his affection for silver. The one who betrayed Jesus for coins. Judas, the pretender. Judas, who later, hung himself on a tree, was called the beloved friend of Jesus.
I am turned upside down by that.
That’s a ‘too-beautiful’ kind of love which makes no sense to me. Absolutely none. I want to punch Judas, not love him.
But, Jesus draws me towards a love that sees identity, not failure.
Jesus’ response shows that no one can ruin their position as his Beloved. And yet, in his commitment to free will, Jesus never forces us to love Him in return. I wonder what would have happened if Judas would have walked in his identity as “Beloved” and let the unwavering, gracious love of Jesus draw him out of the darkness and into Light? If only…if only he would have run into the arms of Love, rather than allowing the grip of shame to convince him that his betrayal was unredeemable.
As I sip my morning joe, I wonder, when do I harm myself by being consumed by my failure, rather than let myself be washed with Love?
…Last night I snapped at my husband because he didn’t wash the piled up daily dishes. Honestly, I beat myself up about it all evening, frustrated because I lost it, because I snapped at him, instead of simply asking for what I needed. Yet still, even in my short-tempered, irrational moments of failure, I am loved.
…Sometimes. I find myself in a room of “creepy Christians” and I am embarrassed that they are “my people.” I struggle with this need I have to feel better about myself, by looking down on others. Yet, even in my struggle with being somewhat judgmental, I am loved.
…When a beautiful woman walks into the room, my focus shifts to my fat knees and crows feet. I find myself struggling with my own insecurity and with comparison, rather than championing her beauty and mine through a warm, secure smile. Despite my insecurities, I am loved.
Judas betrayed himself with a noose. But, I betray Jesus and myself when I define my identity by my shortcomings, and when I live out any identity that is not “The Beloved Friend of Jesus.”
My day is starting now, I listen to the clatter of four children waking, and place my empty cup in the sink. I will have multiple opportunities to decide today what identity to walk in… The Betrayer or The Beloved. I choose to be…LOVED.