"One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him." John 13:23 (NIV)
As a freshman in high school, a boy gave me the nickname "hips." Although I was thin, my shape wasn't popular like the models of that time. And from that point on I was keenly and uncomfortably aware that I didn't have a "desirable" figure.
The name "hips" stuck in my mind for years, as I labeled myself un-athletic and uncoordinated. It didn't help that I got hit in the head at softball tryouts and was in the first cuts from the volleyball and basketball teams. I did get called back for a dancing spot in the school play, but went to the auditions in Levis 501 straight leg jeans. Not exactly sure what I was thinking that day ...
Un-athletic isn't the only label I've given myself over the years. Some have been positive, others negative. Some based on fact, yet others based on emotion. The way I describe myself has a powerful effect on how I see myself ... on my self-worth, value and choices.
The New Testament tells of a disciple of Jesus who had an interesting definition for himself, one that seemed to impact his life as well. In the book of John, one of the disciples is described this way: the one whom Jesus loved.
Interestingly, this description is only found in the book of John, and scholars believe John the Apostle, the author of the book, was referring to himself.
For years, I assumed this was a title the other disciples gave John. Perhaps they believed Jesus loved John more than the others. That wouldn't be uncommon, as siblings tend to have an unspoken understanding of one child being favored. But what if this title, this label, wasn't given by the others?
Recently it hit me that this identity - one loved by Jesus - was how John described himself.
John was confident of Jesus' love, and this had a powerful effect on how he lived his life. He didn't fear man's threats as he stood at the base of the cross, caring for Jesus' mother. Nor when he was among the first at the tomb, possibly facing bewildered and angry Roman soldiers. After the resurrection, John fearlessly preached the Good News alongside the others, and faced persecution and imprisonment. John's confidence of Jesus' love emboldened him.
As I thought of all the descriptions I've given myself over the years, I realized that this one might be the most life-changing for me. It's one thing to identify myself as a Christian, as if it's a set of beliefs I adhere to. It's quite another to place myself in the "inner circle" because of Jesus' love for me. There's something that seems slightly presumptuous about that, and so it's safer to skirt on the edges of this relationship I have with Christ.
And yet when I dare to admit the possibility that Jesus might love me as much as He loved John ... and that I too could call myself the one whom Jesus loves ... this knowledge changes who I am.
I'm invited to His inner circle, today. The only thing that has ever held me back is me - and my faulty definitions of myself.
Today, dear friend, this same identity is available to you. You are the disciple Jesus loves. Can you claim that for yourself? This life-changing identity is waiting for you to accept it.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me unconditionally. Thank You for inviting me in to Your inner circle. May this truth embroider itself on my heart. And may I walk in faith, strengthened by Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
A Confident Heart by Renee Swope
I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer
Reflect and Respond: What labels have you accepted as true for yourself?
How would your life be different if you believed you were the disciple Jesus loves?
Power Verses: Ephesians 5:1-2, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (NIV)
Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (NIV)
© 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
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