You're Not the Point of God's Love8:00 AM
If you're a leader in a women's ministry, I can predict your word from the Lord. And the next one. And the next. It'll run something like this:
God loves you. No, I'm serious. God loves you. He thinks you're amazing and beautiful.
Sometimes I want to quit women's ministry all together and go hang out with the guys...unless guys too have a self-conscious beauty complex? In which case, I'll go chill with the preschoolers.
There's nothing wrong with reminding people that God loves them, because He does. There's nothing wrong with reminding particular Christians that God loves them personally, because He really does. There's nothing wrong with reminding them that God delights in them as His children and His creations...because He really, truly, honest-to-goodness does. And I know from firsthand experience that when that hits you in even the smallest way, you crumple in worship, you fill up with joy, you want to tell everybody this unbelievable truth.
I'm not concerned with the exact words of what some women's encouragement groups say. I'm concerned about what they're leaving out. (Also, I'm concerned with people claiming to speak from God and then parroting the same version of this love-yourself-gospel. Does God seriously talk about nothing but how awesome we are? I'm a skeptic. I think God's conversation is a little more interesting and varied...but that's my personal opinion.)
The idea behind many women's ministries is that women's primary problem is lack of self-worth. If they only understood how worthy they are as God's daughters, they would spring up out of their depression, cutting, unsuccessful creative endeavors, bad relationships, and whatever else gets them down.
I think women's ultimate chronic problem is just like every man's: too much focus on things other than God stemming from too much focus on self. And when we barrage women with constant messages of how awesome they are and how much God loves them, we're only getting half the answer right. God does love us...and His love is a life-changing, redemptive love that reorients the soul from navel-gazing to staring into the face of God Himself.
Whenever I hear these messages, these "words from the Lord," about God's love for us, I get nervous. I feel that these ideas refocus women's hearts back onto themselves: "Whoa. I am awesome. I am awesome. I am so awesome that even God celebrates me!"
That's not the message of the Gospel. Not even close. The message of the Gospel is to know God. He loved us first that we might love Him. Whenever someone says, "God loves you," our response ought to be, "Holy bananas -- God is so awesome because He loves me." His love instigates a relationship where He becomes central to our awe and our celebration. Incidentally, as we love Him more, our self-worth issues roll away into a little pile of irrelevance. We're lost in the beauty, romance, and wonder of a transcendent God taking on flesh to redeem His beloved but corrupted creation.
Let's talk more about that, shall we?
I used to be so tired of hearing about how much God loved me, and because the emphasis bothered me, I knew it couldn't possibly all be true, and therefore began to doubt God's supposed limitless, unconditional, all-surpassing love. I didn't think we were worth it, and was pretty sure that God's love was just another weapon in the self-esteem arsenal. It was only when I came to properly understand the gospel that I could grasp how and why God actually loved me, and it was liberating.