Brennan Manning in his book Abba’s Child talks about how he tried for many years to be a good and perfect Christian. He says that he learned to ‘perform’ for the recognition and approval of others that he so desperately sought. He entered the priesthood, but grew weary of keeping up the appearance of having it all together and being a victorious, carefree Christian. Underneath it all, he felt empty and far from God. The emptiness he felt at disappointing God lead to alcoholism and the collapse of all he knew.
He writes: “For eighteen years I proclaimed the good news of God’s passionate, unconditional love – utterly convicted in my head but not feeling it in my heart. I never felt loved.” It took a great crisis for him to discover that Jesus loved him no matter what – that Jesus would care for him even if he wasn’t perfect.
Manning is not alone in sharing that struggle. So many people wrestle with knowing that Jesus loves them with an unconditional love. There isn’t anything one can do to earn or keep God’s love and yet many often feel unloved. Paul tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And John reminds us that “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) He loved us first and he doesn’t stop loving us.
Manning devoted his life to sharing his discovery with others: his joy in knowing that Jesus loved him no matter what. Later in life, he was able to write, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” What a beautiful thing to know.
Today, you need to know that you are deeply loved by Jesus Christ. If that is just head knowledge, then take a moment and ask him to apply this truth to your heart, where you can really feel it. Life is too short to go through it without knowing the deep, unconditional love of Jesus.