I think most of us stutter a bit when we try to proclaim our love for Jesus. Perhaps we're shy or embarrassed. Perhaps it's because of an evangelist's aggressiveness and apparent insincerity. Perhaps we hesitate because the love is too deep for words: how do we move the fire in our belly to our lips?
Or maybe we haven't spent enough time getting to know Jesus. Loving Jesus, loving anyone, implies relationship. I'd be less than candid if I didn't confess that in my faith journey this is a relatively new experience. Ever since I returned to the church as an adult in 1981, I've been engrossed in getting to know Jesus through my head. I read about Jesus, about our Triune God. I read every morning in bed with my coffee and fluffed-up pillows. But recently I've started setting aside the books, closing my eyes and resting in God's presence — sometimes with words, sometimes without. In these times, almost without exception, my sense of God's presence brings tears to my eyes.
This relationship is formed and re-formed in these morning moments and throughout our lives. Right now these are the words I have for why I love Jesus: because he never gives up on me, on us. He pursues us relentlessly and has promised to be with us always, no matter how broken or stubborn we are, no matter how often we turn from him.
I love Jesus for his call to peace, to care for one another, to welcome the stranger. I love Jesus for his grace, his forgiveness, his mercy. I love Jesus because he first loved us, enabling us to love him. I love Jesus because even though we make such a mess of things in God's world, through Jesus there is hope and the assurance that "love is still Lord."
I love my Lord as I see him in each one of you, in the beauty of God's creation, in the love of human relationships and even in the suffering of the world.
But a critical component of "why I love my Lord" is "how I love my Lord." Theologian Frederick Buechner said to pay close attention to that which puts a lump in your throat: "Faith is less a position on than a movement toward ...."
We love Jesus by following his call to be his disciples in the world. This path isn't always clear for me. What is clear is that we're called outward. It's not just about warm fuzzies but about leaving our comfort zones to speak his name and do his work.
I am in kindergarten on this journey and in this relationship, filled with doubts and questions. Clarity of vision waxes and wanes. My attention fades in and out of focus. But what I am coming to know in both my head and my heart is an assurance of his presence through the Spirit. Whether I feel it or not, in the lightness and in the darkness I remember his words: "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
We may resist and flee and hide. But we have a patient God who doesn't give up on us and who loves us beyond our understanding.
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers