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Watch the video course of “How to Receive God’s Love” or read the transcript below. Make sure you get the free “How to Receive God’s Love Workbook” that accompanies the course!
In Heaven, do you think it will be difficult to receive God’s love?
Of course, not! Things will be radically different when we are heaven, because not only will we be in perfection, we will be in the physical realm of God and His very real kingdom.
No one really knows what Heaven will be like, but what we do know is Heaven is where we will be with God and free from the brokenness of sin.
And speaking of the brokenness of sin, it is very much the reason why so many of us struggle to receive God’s love.
God’s love is different than human love. It is slow to anger, keeps no records of wrong, never fails. God’s love is perfect and holy. It is restorative and complete.
The scriptural evidence that God loves you is overwhelming. In fact, I have a whole post on Scripture About God’s Love that could be beneficial for you to read.
However, while God’s love is perfect and complete, it often is hard to receive.
It’s hard to receive God’s love for many reasons, but there are three top candidates as to why it is so difficult.
1. God’s love is hard to receive because God is not physically present.
Sure, God is everywhere – and beyond time itself even – and the Holy Spirit abides in all followers of Jesus. But God isn’t visibly present to us.
It’s not like you can sit down with Jesus and speak to Him face to face, sip coffee together, read His body expressions, and hear His words coming from His mouth.
Wouldnt it be easier if we could just do that? Would it be easier to receive God’s love if He was tangible and directly in front of us?
But unfortunately, that is not how it is during this age, the time of waiting for Christ to come back. However, the wonderful news is that we are never alone. The Holy Spirit is always with us and that is something profound and miraculous because even the followers of God in the Old Testament didn’t have that.
So while we can’t physically look God eye to eye, we do have God indwelling in us at all times, and this is an incredible asset and tool for us to receive God’s love!
2. God’s love is hard to receive because we confuse it with human love.
Our understanding of love comes from our interaction with people. Usually, our early families are the first place we receive love.
Since all people are not perfect and are broken, we, unfortunately, do not enter this world in perfect holy love. We instead often experience hurt and pain from the people we most love.
While God’s love is perfect… human love is not.
Human love is conditional, it isn’t everlasting, and it isn’t perfect. The love we experience from other people is never complete… only God’s love is.
While working on receiving God’s love, you must start to divorce your experience of love from others with God’s love. Because the two are not fully the same. Human love can mirror God’s love, but it is only God’s love that is perfect.
For a lot of us, God’s love gets convoluted with parental love, especially when a parent has abused their role. That’s why it’s important to differentiate between God’s love and the love we’ve experienced from others.
3. God’s love is hard to receive because we don’t understand it.
This third idea connects directly to the previous point. Again, most of our information about love comes from our experiences with others, both good and bad.
Additionally, we live in a world that speaks a lot about what love is because it is a basic human emotion. However, the world’s description of love is inconsistent and often confused.
For example, the world defines love as sexy.
The world defines love as emotional.
The world defines love as conditional.
The world defines love as… well, whatever it feels like at the moment. See that’s the problem with human wisdom, it is fickle and incomplete. It morphs and changes with whatever is current and attractive.
The way love was defined by people in 1511AD looked very different than what love looked like in 698 BC, and certainly very different than what it looks like in 2020 AD.
Because when humans are at the helm of creating definitions, particularly of something as important as love, we will always miss the mark. It is only through God we know the true definition of love.
And so how do we know of God’s love?
It all started way back in the Garden when Adam and Eve sinned against God. But do you know what God did after the first humans decided that they wanted to be like God instead of being with Him? Do you know what God did?
God didn’t respond by wiping them out, and simply canceling the human race (which He very well could have.) God instead showed tender love when He found Adam and Eve.
God sternly but lovingly reprimanded them and gave them punishment because God’s love isn’t weak or passive, but rather real and restorative. And after He punished them, He did this:
“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 NIV
And here is where we see the fullness of God’s love. No, He didn’t accept Adam and Eve’s disobedience, there are consequences for our actions, which is incredibly loving. Furthermore, God provided better attire for the humans, clothing stronger than a fig leaf. God prepared the first people to accept their punishment. Doesn’t that sound like a loving parent to you?
Take a moment and compare God’s actions with how human love might have reacted in this instance. Imagine all the ways human love could fall short of God’s love in this scenario. Envision someone going behind your back and doing something you asked them not to do. Then they act cowardly and hide from you. After being caught and punished, would most people expect their punisher to provide assistance to move forward?
But see, that is just the beginning of seeing God’s love and the piece of Scripture that set the stage for you and I today. Because when God didn’t wipe Adam and Eve out, He began His plan of redemption – the plan to bring His creation back to Him.
Throughout Scripture, we see this movement of God leading His people through perfect and holy love. He establishes covenants with them that ultimately lead us to Jesus Christ.
And Jesus Christ is where we see ever so clearly what God’s love looks like through a human. And WOW – it is shocking! So stunning, in fact, that many of the people of God rejected it and ultimately instead chose death.
I think that is what is clear in Jesus’ ministry on this earth is that many people wrestle with God’s perfect and holy love so deeply that they will not even consider receiving it because it just doesn’t make sense to them.
Because for some reason, humans have an easier time accepting the wrath of God but not the love of God. They’re more willing to accept being kicked out of the Garden than the clothes God makes and hands to them.
The love of God seems scary, vulnerable, too perfect. It is countercultural and can be alarming. Jesus’ life certainly was that.
God’s love isn’t like anything we can experience apart from Him. Yes, it can at first seem scary, because it is so different and freeing than any other love we will experience from other people.
The love of God is the antidote to sin and brokenness and it is what the enemy wants you to fear and ultimately reject.
And now, I want to leave you with some practical tips on how to work on receiving God’s love.
How to receive God’s love:
Make it a priority in your life.
People don’t usually arrive at deep theological truths about God overnight. Understanding God’s love is complex and can come with a lot of personal and emotional baggage. If you are serious about wanting to receive more of God’s love, then start making decisions and actions that will help you achieve that goal.
- Talk to your pastor about it.
- Look for books and resources about God’s love. (Please make sure they are credible sources, there are a lot of people talking about God who mean well, but don’t have the theological backing for such a rich topic as the love of God.) An excellent book that radically changed my understanding of God’s love is: Surrender to Love by David G. Benner
- Consider talking to a therapist if you discover that this topic is bringing up a lot of issues in your life. Again, the love of God can highlight a lot of our own baggage and can be tied up with other problems that are preventing you from understanding or receiving God’s love.
Continually pray about it.
Be persistent in prayer and asking God to help reveal His love to you. Sometimes it is tempting to only pray for something a couple of times and get frustrated and think God isn’t answering. Continue praying as long as it takes! Be like the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. I can’t stress to you enough how valuable persistent prayer is to God.
Study Scripture about it.
There is plenty of Scripture to point you to learn more of God’s love. For instance, I have a Scripture resource that is filled with Bible Verses about God’s love.
Beyond just reading isolated Bible verses about God’s love, you should take a close look at the restoration of Peter. It is one of the most tender, loving interactions that we see in Scripture. It speaks volumes to the endless forgiveness of our Savior. You can find the Restoration of Peter in John 21.
Create a pattern for grounding yourself in God’s love
Commit to reminding yourself about the truth of God’s love. When negative emotions about God’s love arise, create patterns for yourself where you stop, intentionally address your feelings, and remind yourself about the truth God has already shared about His love for you. It may be helpful to memorize a few key verses about God’s love to help you ground yourself and turn your thoughts away from your natural emotional response and instead toward what God has already revealed.
The more you practice breaking patterns of negative thoughts about receiving God’s love and replace them with what God Himself has said, the easier it will become to change your thinking on God’s love.
Journal about receiving God’s love
Make a journal on this topic. Take in thoughts and feelings and document the process of receiving God’s love. Reflect on questions such as:
- Why do you think it is hard for you to receive God’s love?
- What does God’s love mean to you?
- When was there a time in your life where you have received God’s love and what was that like?
- What do you think your life would look like if you more fully received God’s love for you?
Sometimes the beginning of the journey to receiving God’s love begins by simply accepting that God loves you. Start there. Don’t expect to feel emotions about it, but instead simply meditate on the truth that God loves you. Remove the emotion from it and look at it as a reality – not a feeling. This is a journey and remember that God’s love is not based on anything outside of Him, or anything, that we do… because God is love.
Plan to try one of the suggested practices for receiving God’s love. May you grow in this unbelievable reality that God loves you just as you are not as you are supposed to be!
Don’t forget to get your free How To Receive God’s Workbook
I also have a couple of other resources that could help you:
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