I was thinking, what is the most important thing to remember for ourselves? What is the most important thing that we need to continuously remind ourselves with? I think the most important and also the most beautiful thing is that we are the beloved. That is an unchangeable fact we are the beloved. I think that is the most important thing for us to remember. A lot of relational problems. I realized that happens because we don’t have this understanding that I am the beloved, so whenever people criticize me and all that, it triggers that I am not beloved. That’s why we react and that’s why we get angry. That is how important it is for us to remember, accept and believe that we are beloved and then you know when I see a lot of shootings and all that. Behind it all I see they are struggling with the fact that they are not beloved. They are crying out for the attention. I mean deeply ingrained that I’m worthless. I’m not beloved, and this will be an experience in the world that we live in. It is hard to experience that I am beloved in the world that we live in. Whenever we experienced failures, we translate that into “Oh I am not beloved.” Whenever we experienced rejection again, we feel that we are not a beloved and whenever we don’t do very well, then people love me because I don’t do very well.
And that is the kind of experience that we always have every moment, every day. So it is hard to believe that I’m the beloved. Once I had a meeting and then there was a man in front of me, and then from the first moment, I saw him. His face showed me that he was very angry and all throughout the meeting I could see the man so angry and I was wondering how difficult it must be for him to always live with that anger. All, his energy will be wasted for that anger. Whenever we are reminded that we are not beloved, we get angry. We are angry with the people who remind us that we are not beloved. That’s why so many people cannot take criticism well because criticism affirms that we are not beloved, so we become sensitive to criticism. A situation where we feel unwanted and rejected some tinge of the sign that I’m not welcome, I’m rejected. I’m not wanted, then all of a sudden we overreact to the situation.
We are scared of being unwanted. We don’t have to be popular, but we don’t want to feel unwanted. That gives us a constant struggle to fit in. Not just young people, not just teenagers. Everyone. You know when I talk to older people sometimes I talk to them, I play with them. And then they tell me to thank you, but I didn’t do anything. Why did you thank me? You know you play with the old people. I mean, they feel that nobody welcomes the old people. So from young to old, they are all scared of feeling unwanted. You don’t have to be popular, but at least we want to feel wanted. But I realized that nobody in the world can validate that I am the beloved.
Nobody, no group in the world can validate that I am the beloved more often people and the groups, they validate that we are not beloved. If we expect that from people or from the group or from the world will get disappointed and will become very unhappy. The more we try, the more we become enslaved to the need for the approval and the acceptance of people. While I was writing this sermon, I was thinking about Goins (Blue Jays player) and how bad it must have felt that triggered the whole thing. I didn’t watch the game, but I read it in the news. How could he do that? I mean, I love that guy. He’s my favorite (Baseball player). The kind of comment that he made, was very humble. “It is I who made the mistake and I have caught those kinds of balls many times, but somehow that happened.” When Bautista (Blue Jays player) said: “What confusion, I don’t understand what you’re talking about”. I didn’t appreciate that. I felt for Goins (Blue Jays player) that evening, and also I felt for Elvis (Baseball player) even though because of his mistake we won the game. They must have felt so bad that evening. The more we expect love from people and from the world, the more we will be disappointed and we will be enslaved to their validation and I don’t want to be validated by them.
God is Love
I realize it only from the source of love. I can validate that I am the beloved. Then what is the source of love? Today’s scripture says, this love is from God, and then John begins with this beloved. He assumed that beloved, let us love one another. He calls us beloved, and then he says later, love is from God. That is a source. God is the source. Going one step further, he says, God is love. He just defines who God is. God is love all about God is love. There’s nothing else but love. That’s what God is. That’s who God is. God is love through. Through love, God created this world and with love, God has led us and because of his love, he saved us. Every movement of God begins with love. That’s who God is. We have so many distorted images of God, but God is love.
That’s what John proclaims and that’s what I want to proclaim. God is love. Today’s scripture summarizes the work of Jesus Christ as what? As the manifestation of Gospel love. This is what he said, Gods love was revealed among us in this way. God sent his only son into the world so that we might live through him. The fact that Jesus Christ came to us was also the revelation of God. Nothing else but the love of God. Jesus’ life was the incarnation of Gods love. Jesus was not just word becoming flesh, but the love of God becoming flesh.bAnd John in chapter one, he said the word became flesh, but in chapter three he said that Jesus is the incarnation of God’s love. In this way, he said this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”. The fact that Jesus Christ came to us was Gods love for the world. So the fact that we are the beloved cannot be discovered by other people, but only from God. As we deeply meditate on God’s love, we will discover that we are the beloved.
I am Beloved
As a matter of fact, I believe that every conclusion of our prayer should be I’m the beloved. Every prayer when we come out and say “Oh, I’m the beloved”. Jesus Christ lived his life very, very busy. He had so many things to do every day. He was so tired at the end of the day and so exhausted. So he went up to the mountain and then in the mountain he prayed, and then what would he receive at the end? In the end, he received that. You are the beloved. When Jesus Christ first began his ministry, what was the voice that he heard? What was the only voice he heard before he began the ministry, it was hearing this voice that he went into the ministry? This is the voice that he heard and the voice came from heaven. You are my son, the beloved. That is the voice he heard. You are my son the beloved, hearing that voice he began his ministry.
The very basic thing that we have to first affirm to live our lives meaningfully is that we are the beloved, not just with our brain, not just with our heart, but in our gut. At the gut level, we have to know that we are the beloved. We have to build our lives on this unchangeable, immutable fact. The world constantly challenges us. Prove that you are the beloved. The world always tells us, prove that you are the beloved. What is that? What does that voice prove? That you are the beloved? That is the voice of temptation. As soon as Jesus heard the voice, you are the beloved. The next thing Jesus heard was from Satan in the wilderness, a temptation. And Satan said if you are the son of God. In other words, prove that you’re the son of God, the beloved. That’s the voice of Satan. That is the voice of temptation. You don’t need to prove that you are the beloved. Stop trying that. You don’t need to prove that, accept it and believe it. When you’re able to accept and believe that you are the beloved than the whole thing changes.
You know, when we understand that I am the beloved. Something amazing happens. You know what happens when I say that I am the beloved and I realized that you are the beloved too. When I deeply understand that I am the beloved. I understand that you are the beloved too. That’s what love is. recognize and realize that you are the beloved. That’s what love is. That’s what loving one another means. Loving one another is not doing something for someone, but just to recognize you are the beloved too and that recognition only comes when you really know that you are the beloved. So this is what the Scripture says, beloved, he already assumed, beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. It’s not an order, but it is a matter of fact, as we know that we are beloved, we can also know that you are the beloved too and that is to love one another. Then we realize love is flow.
Love is not just a feeling. Love is doing something, but you know, love is not just a verb. Love is not an adjective. Love is not a feeling. Love is not doing. Love is simply a flow. When you experience love and get absorbed into the love of God, that love just flows down to the neighbor and that truth who told us, Jesus Christ told us in the Old Testament, there is one verse that says, “love your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind. Love your God. That is the most important commandment,” it’s called Shima. It was the most important commandment in the old testament and so you put that word on your forehead, on your wrist, and on your doorstep. Everywhere. Love your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Love your neighbor, You don’t even see where that is in another context. Just love your neighbor and Jesus. Put these two together and love your God and love your neighbor. That is the most important thing in your life. No rabbi taught that no rabbi did that. They were all in the Old Testament, but Jesus was the first one who put it together. Saying that you love God then it naturally flows into love with your neighbors.
I believe that knowing that you’re the beloved is a moral responsibility. Once I said in the happiness seminar or a retreat, I said, being happy is a moral responsibility because when you’re happy, only when you’re happy, you can make others happy. When you’re unhappy, it makes so many people miserable. So I think these are moral responsibilities. When you’re happy, you make other people happy. When you’re unhappy, you make other people unhappy. Whenever I see shooting they’re so unhappy and they make so many other people so unhappy. Make them miserable for the rest of their life. Not just one or two hundreds of people. Thousands of people were affected by their unhappiness, so being happy is the moral responsibility. Knowing that I’m the beloved is the moral responsibility. When other people criticize us and pinpoint our weaknesses and darkness. When we know that we are beloved, we don’t need to overreact. We don’t need to respond with such sensitivity. How people treat me. Criticism and nasty things they say about me. I don’t need to respond if I know that I am the beloved, but when I don’t know that I’m the beloved, then we’ll react to that.
That’s why when we know that I am the beloved, you can even love the enemies. That was the only secret to love your enemies because they don’t fire off that I’m not beloved. They can’t do that. I will never let enemies do that for me. I’ll never let enemies tell me that I’m the beloved, so when I know that I’m the beloved, I can even embrace the enemies. That’s the most important thing in your life. When you know that you’re beloved, you can be strong. You can overcome your failures, you can overcome your rejections, you can overcome your shortcomings because you are strong. We Christians are strong because we know that we are beloved and we are strong and we can overcome all kinds of situations even when a bad situation happens in your life. That’s when you say to yourself, I’m the beloved, not when things are okay when bad things are happening in your life, that’s when you say to yourself that I am the beloved. To be, to believe in Jesus Christ means to believe that you are beloved because for God loved you, that God sent Jesus Christ, so believing in Jesus Christ can be translated into believing that you are the beloved. Believing in Jesus Christ is not an abstract concept. Concretely if you know that, and believe that then you believe that you are the beloved. Be Strong. You’re loved by God.