Hi everyone. Rob here.
Both my kids believe in the power of a good cuddle. Their cuddles come anytime, anywhere (well, almost!) and in any situation. Even if they’re mad at Mum or Dad they still hug it out. An embrace is an immediate confirmation of affection. It affirms the warmth of a relationship right in the moment. But what happens when we profess and receive love from a God who is unseen? How does that work? Often we need an immediate affirmation of God’s love to us, and yet how can that possibly be experienced? But we are told in Scripture over and over again that God is with us. My proposal is that if God is with us then his love towards us can be tangibly received here and now.
We all have different ways of communicating and receiving love. We know this as love languages. Gary Chapman’s book tells us that these love languages consist of touch, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts and acts of service. Most of us love to receive all of those but tend to favour one or two above the others. For example, I’m a touch and words of affirmation kind of guy but I’ll happily receive a gift or a kind favour. God knows our love languages. He gave them to us after all. But how does he communicate them to us? I suggest God does this through his body, through his creation and through his Spirit.
I’ve had experiences where I’ve pictured Jesus coming to me, putting an arm around my shoulder and saying, “let’s go do this!” They were special moments and yet, disembodied. But Jesus does have a body and it’s us. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says:
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
All the love we receive at an interpersonal level is God giving us love through his body. Those cuddles from my kids are God loving me. Those kind and affirming words on Sunday are God’s kind and affirming words. That hard truth spoken in love is God challenging me to live into my true self in Christ. Anything that’s not love is not from God so we need to be discerning. The body doesn’t always work well. Sometimes it’s diseased or wounded, and yet, God brings love through his body.
He also brings love through his creation. God is love and everything he has made was made in love. When a gentle breeze tickles your face and when the sun warms your body, receive that as an act of love. When the spring flowers come up or the waves break on shore, receive that as an act of love. Make it a practice to delight in God’s creation, just as you take delight in the creations of your loved ones. Read Psalm 104 or Job 38-40 to see the utter delight that God himself takes in his creation. It is made from love so that we can receive God’s love.
Finally there’s simply God’s presence with and in us through his Spirit. So often we pray to ‘God up there and out there’ when Scripture says that God dwells in our hearts as well as on his throne. Christ is in us as well as at the right hand off the Father. We are a dwelling place for God and God speaks his love to us through his Spirit that lives in us. The question for us is, do we have ears to hear? The best way for us to receive these words of love is to slow down and deliberately present ourselves to God – “here I am.” Invite God to speak love over you, to speak truth over you and trust the whispers! too often we hear God speak and write it off as, ‘that was just me.’ If it’s truth, it was not just you! If it sounds like your voice that’s because Christ is in you and his truth has gotten into you. Christ’s voice doesn’t sound like someone else’s voice. It sounds like his truth planted into our spirits and hearts, and it may be as simple as “my son” and “my daughter.”
There is an immediacy to God’s love. May we all dwell richly in that love this week. May we allow it to enter deeply into our hearts and may we be bearers of that love in this world that so desperately needs it.
Grace, peace and love everyone.