I have a secret. Or, more accurately, I had a secret. It's the kind that, well, certain people wouldn't understand.
See, in Christian circles, there are certain things--some sins, some just struggles--that we don't talk about . These run the gambit--depression, pornography, managing sensual desires, trusting God, etc.
It's not that all sins that are taboo. We have our favorite sins and we feel very free to talk about these, often in very flippant ways: worry, lack of discipline, disrespecting our leaders, gossip.
But there are still some things that, well, are just awkward to bring up. Things that, if shared, would make people wonder about you, about where you stand with God. That's where my secret comes in.
For years, I didn't love Jesus.
Well there it is. I've gone and made it public to the whole world. I didn't feel what most of Christendom feels. No warm fuzzies. Really, very little emotion in that direction at all. I was usually grateful. But that's not the same thing.
Let me back up. I grew up in a very loving home, where I believed in Christ at a young age. All of my growing up years, and even into adulthood, I had a very clear picture of God the Father. See, if he was anything like my father, I could relate. My father wasn't perfect--as the Father is--but he was a good and loving parent. When I prayed to the father (in Jesus' name, of course), I could picture coming before Him and could see His intent and loving eyes on me. When I needed comfort, I could picture crawling up in His lap or leaning my head against His shoulder. Even when I was in trouble, I knew that He was seeking to bring me to my best for His glory, not to whap on me. The Father I 'got,' and the Father I loved.
The way I saw it was that Jesus had come to reveal the Father (John 17:25-26, "Righteous Father...I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known..."). He pointed us toward the Father, and then made a way to the Father (John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one come to the Father except through me."). I didn't get why I should love Jesus. It seemed to me that His role was to introduce the Father.
But it didn't sit quite right with me. Firstly, many, many people did love Jesus, and seemed to think that this was normal and right. A little Christian peer pressure, so to speak. This made me think that I was missing something, and that thought brought me to...
Secondly, the Father exalted the Son, and made Him His focus (John 8:54, "My Father... is the one who glorifies Me."). Surely, Jesus was more important than the role to which I was relegating Him, that of a spiritual matchmaker. As I began to investigate this, I realized that...
Thirdly, the Father loves the Son (John 17:24, "Father...You loved Me before the creation of the world."). Whoa... The Father loves the Son? Love is important, then. Loving Jesus is important. Shouldn't I love what--and who--the Father loves? Clearly, I was missing something here.
Finally, Jesus said that our love for Him is connected with our obedience. Well, sometimes it's really hard to be obedient, and I needed every advantage I could get. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love Me, you will obey what I command." Surely the reverse is true also: If I don't love Him, I won't be keeping His commands. This was very sticky.
Once I realized I needed to love Jesus, I wasn't sure how to go about loving Him. To love the Father was natural. How did one go about falling in love with the Son?
On occasion, I have slipped away to the mountains to pray. On one such occasion not quite two years ago, I sat down to a lengthy conversation with my Savior. His presence was so real to me that all the worldly and insignificant concerns that I had seemed to melt away. But this one was left. "Jesus, I don't know you." Ouch, my secret was out, and it seemed awful. But quickly, His quiet answer came. "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)
It was as if the sun had just suddenly burst into the sky, as if spring had routed winter in one single breath. Suddenly, I understood. I couldn't love the Father without also loving the Son, for He is in the Father and the Father is in Him (John 14:10-11). All along, I had been loving the Son, I just didn't know it!
One tiny phrase, six little words, but the ache, the pillars of shame and fear in my heart were suddenly banished. I could love Him; I did love Him. His love was already mine.
It's amazing how revolutionary this simple--basic, even--truth has been in my life. Sometimes these days, I will sit in enthralled worship, reveling in the fact the not only does He love me, but I can and do love Him too. What a gift this truth is.
And now, when others say they love Jesus, I understand. For my heart is bursting with love--and gratefulness--for the one who came to introduce me to the Father and to give me life now and forever.
I really do love Him. I really do.