When I was young, my parents often had company over (they still do). I liked it best when where were two or three families over, so there were children for me to play with, but I loved it when everyone, including the adults played games together. My favourite game was Fruit Basket Upset. In the game, chairs are situated in a circle – one chair for everyone, less one. People were paired and labelled by fruit. The person in the centre would call out fruit and whoever was that fruit would get up and switch chairs. The person in the middle tried to steal a chair and thus creating a new ‘it’ person. The best was when ‘fruit basket upset’ was called and everyone had to change seats.
I haven’t played the game for years but I still love fruit and I particularly love a basket full of fruit (not necessarily if it’s upset). We are in the height of summer and summertime fruit is plentiful. This week, and for the next 9 weeks, Kingdom Bloggers are writing about fruit – the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23
Love. Love is the first aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. In other scripture, it says love is the greatest of all and in another scripture says love covers a multitude of sins. It’s powerful and has fueled poetic songs since the beginning of time. Peter confessed his love for Jesus; John called himself ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’.
My church’s vision statement is, “To walk in God’s love and give it away.” Before we can walk in it, we have to know it. I want to know God’s love – more than anything. I have more desire to have a greater understanding of God’s love for me than anything else. This wasn’t always true.
I used to think I knew God loved me. I trivialized his love for me, wanting more of the ‘stuff’. Whenever I heard a personal prophesy, and they shared God loved me, I discounted it. It’s so general and true for everyone; it’s not a stretch and it didn’t impress me with their prophetic ability. I wanted a directional word, something concrete and specific; point in the way I should go, and I’ll go (let’s do this thing). Over and over, I was told God loves me. And then I started doing prophetic evangelism and ‘spiritual readings’, and the message I heard most from God for other people is that he loves them.
I didn’t doubt the word I received was from God and it I trusted it was the word they needed to hear. I started looking at people and their behaviour and thought, “If only they knew God loved them, really loved them, they wouldn’t strive for attention so much (looking for love in all the wrong places).” It became a mission for me to love people, as God loved them because unlike them, I knew God loved me. I was confident in it.
But still I kept getting the same prophetic words, and then when I was finally fed up of not hearing the directional words I was looking for, I began asking the Lord for more and he kept saying, “I love you.”
It hit me. God loves me and when he repeats something, it’s because the listener is too thick in the skull to hear it so it needs repeating. I was convicted in my behaviour, chasing after his love by doing service and works and wanting the “stuff” because by it, I thought I might gain more of his love. I’ve been looking for love all along – perhaps my clothing didn’t shout, “Look at me,” but my acts of service did.
God is love and he is infinite, therefore we can know him for eternity and never come to the end of his love. It is whole and complete and it is focussed on me, on you. Song of Solomon, the most uncomfortable book in the Bible, is a love letter. He invites us to come [to his presence and live in his love], then go. I was living opposite; I was going before I had truly lived in his love.
The last couple of years have been lessons of learning his love. Did I know I was loved before? Yes, and I have awesome parents for making me secure and confident and know I’m worthy of being loved. But I didn’t know the depths of God’s love, even now, as I write, I feel his presence and I feel his love – like a warm oil pouring over my shoulders. I know I’m loved, but it’s still my prayer – to know it more, to know it fully.
One of my favourite teachings is by Chris Gore, from Bethel Church. It’s called the Secret of John, and it’s about God’s love. I want to give a copy of the teaching to whoever needs a reminder God loves them. Email me a request with your mailing address and I’ll send you a copy. I want you to know, God loves you. It’s not trivial and it’s not general and it’s not because God is love so that he has to love you. He loves you, just as you are.