We’ve recently had a retreat day as part of our course, where we all spent a day out of Watford and taking some time to just hear from God and reflect on the last 7 months or so. I spent the day with my notebook, lots of coloured pens and my phone on aeroplane mode and had such a good day.
Someone asked me just last week ‘What are the top 5 things you’ve learnt on Soul61?’ I loved this question and so spent a chunk of my retreat day thinking about specific things I’d learnt whilst on Soul61. Lots of my blogs over the last few months have unfolded bits and pieces of what I think I’ve been learning but there were a couple of things that came to me I thought I’d write about.
Jeremiah 31.3 says ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’ (NIV)
This isn’t necessarily something I would say I’ve learnt since being on Soul61, but rather something that I’ve grown to try and understand in a new way. The love God shows us is outrageous; it’s unbelievable and I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand it… which makes it even more amazing! I think this verse in Jeremiah is great because it shows something of the unbelievably huge nature of God’s love. The Message translation puts it like this;
‘I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love and more love’
This helps us look at the verse in a slightly different way again. God has loved us from the outset, from the beginning of time and this isn’t going to change. We may change, we’ll muck up, we’re not perfect but God will never quit loving us. He won’t give up on us, he will continue to love us for all eternity.
We live in a society today where commitment isn’t nearly as important as it used to be; it is easier to keep in touch with people through a million and one different social media sites and so less effort is put into keeping in touch and eventually, friendships drift away and just aren’t quite the same despite the fact we’re more connected than ever. Life is a lot more instant now and commitment isn’t as valuable in an instant society and so less emphasis is placed on it. Yet in the midst of this society is a God who still wants to love us no matter what. A God who wants to love us despite the fact that we’re going to muck up and despite the fact we won’t always stay faithful.
That’s amazing and over the year I’ve been shown again and again the real truth of this and seen God’s love display itself in new ways, in extravagant ways and I’m sure there are a whole load more ways that I haven’t even begun to discover yet.
The challenge then really comes for us in a passage such as 1 John 4. 19-20 which says ‘We love because he (Christ) first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar…’ We’ve got this amazing privilege and amazing gift from God, that he loves us no matter what, that his love for us is so incredibly huge and indescribable. Our love for others should reflect the love we’ve been shown by Christ. We should love faithfully as he has loved us. We should love extravagantly in the same way he loved us.
This is a challenge for me now; that I carry on loving those who annoy me, maybe those who upset me. That I carry on loving those who Christ loves; not necessarily my biological brothers or sisters but people around the world that God loves and I should love too. And that as I leave Watford and meet new people, that I love them also, even if we aren’t yet best friends, that I show them the same love God shows me. Day after day. Mistake after mistake.
‘I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love and more love.’