God cares for you. Yes, you. You don’t have to look at the person on the left or on the right, because He is looking right at you.
In fact, if you were the only person on the planet, in the entire universe, and if He had to choose again, He would still send His Son to die for you and be raised again for you.
Do you believe that?
Today, every Christian knows that God is love and God loves them and gave His life for them. That’s what they tell others too, when they’re out witnessing and introducing Jesus to others.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)” Right? Most certainly, yes that’s right. God loves each and every person in the world.
But the one who wrote this very line, the apostle John, was also the only apostle to call himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. He personalised the Lord’s love for him like no other.
Sadly, too many Christians today only know of God’s love for them as head knowledge, rather than a real experiential love they’ve felt in their heart and can trust in.
Why is that so? Well, I’d venture to say that Christians today are not truly experiencing God’s love for them personally for themselves because they don’t ask Him for anything, and they’re not given to do so. And that becomes a looping cycle.
But wait – isn’t it selfish to pray for ourselves? As Christians, shouldn’t we engage ourselves in bringing the gospel to the far corners of the world, in feeding the poor and hungry and helping the destitute?
Well, man’s reasoning certainly thinks so. But what does God think about praying for oneself?
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 records the story of Jabez from the house of Judah in 2 short verses, amidst all the genealogical details of who was whose son, who married who, and what they did for a living. It says, in the New Living Translation:
There was a man named Jabez who was more honourable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez (which sounds like a Hebrew word meaning ‘pain’) because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that You would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
Sounds like a very selfish and personal prayer, not something that you’d pull out to show others. Yet God thought it important enough to record it specifically and permanently for us to read and refer to. He also called Jabez “more honourable than any of his brothers.” And I love how God just snuck in at the end that He answered Jabez’s prayer, just in case any of us had any doubts.
Why does God call Jabez “more honourable than any of his brothers”, when all he did was pray for himself? I suspect it was because He saw that Jabez saw a God who was so big and good that he dared to pray a selfish prayer, because he believed that God cared about him, personally. Jabez made God look good.
The thing is, if we never pray for anything for ourselves, we will never come to know God as a God who loves us enough to answer our prayers. We’d only know Him as a God who answers collective prayers by others for us, or our pastors’ and leaders’ prayers.
Certainly, there is a special anointing in corporate and collective prayer, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting your pastor to pray for you – but you need to come to a place where you know this: God hears you just as clearly as He does your pastor or leader.
God doesn’t grade on the curve or play ranks or favourites. Religion does that. But the moment Jesus finished His work on the cross and He tore the veil of the temple in two from top to bottom, He brought us all in together before God on equal footing and ground, making all believers righteous and blameless in Him (Christ). And the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16, emphasis mine).
If they had to choose one way or another, most people would have no problem believing that God is concerned about the suffering masses, persecuted Christians, or disaster-stricken zones. If they’re asked further, they would also probably agree that God has a heart to see the poor, the sick and the needy in our community being healed and helped.
But ask them, “Do you believe that God loves you? That you know that you know that you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that He cares for you personally?”, and they’ll probably say, “Ah well, God loves everyone, doesn’t He, and I suppose that includes me too.”
No, my friend. Let’s peel back the covering of humanitarian morality that our culture and religious upbringing has put on us, and get to the place where God wants us to be.
Jesus came and preached to individuals about their everyday personal life, and how God wants to care for them. He healed individuals who brought their own personal needs to Him. He ministered to His disciples individually and personally before He asked them to go and bring the very same gospel to the ends of the earth. And in Jesus’s own words, whoever has seen Him has seen the Father (John 14:9).
Is it really that important to know and believe that God loves us personally, if we’re still out helping others and serving Him anyway?
Let’s be real for a minute: when you tell people about Jesus, how would they believe that the gospel and God is really so good if you have no great testimonies of His goodness to back you up and put that unmistakeable conviction in your voice? And how would you have great and awesome testimonies, testimonies that still make you marvel at God’s goodness to you each time you tell them, if you never asked God for anything yourself?
Having an experiential knowledge of God’s love for you will fire you up and cause you to serve Him and others around you with undeniable passion, and without burning out.
You’re not just a face in the crowd. Jesus knows everything about you, and you – your wellbeing, cares, concerns, prosperity and success in every area – are everything to Him.
Don’t doubt it. Dare to ask, and you shall see.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.