Would you still love me the same?

 Photo by  Abbey Sargent

Photo by Abbey Sargent

I listen to Top 40 radio, and have exactly no shame about it.

Adam Levine has a new single out that is as catchy as it is accurate, and the chorus goes like this:

If I got locked away
And we lost it all today
Tell me honestly would you still love me the same?

(YOU GET ME, ADAM LEVINE.)
If I showed you my flaws
If I couldn't be strong
Tell me honestly would you still love me the same?

(YOU KNOW MY SOUL, BLESS YOUR HEART.)

Maybe it’s an oldest child thing, but sometimes I feel as if I live on a tightrope, tottering back and forth and performing for applause and adoration. I’m very afraid that if I fall, if the performance doesn’t live up to expectations or I am found out as a fraud, the audience will throw rotten tomatoes.

Maybe it’s an oldest child thing.

Maybe it’s just a human thing.

The fear of being found unlovable is, I think, one the deepest (if not the deepest) fear in the human experience.

Do you spend a lot of time feeling like you’re performing for affection? Assuming that if you let people in too far, they will see the mess and run. Keeping friends at arm’s length, to protect yourself from what you feel is imminent rejection.

It’s a debilitating way to live, isn’t it? It is for me.

Here’s an even scarier thing: do you ever feel like you’re performing for God, too? That if He REALLY REALLY REALLY knew you, He would take away your salvation and be all, “Dang, homie, you are too much even for me”?

Sure, people go on and on about “Jesus loves me it’s fine”, “blah blah blah I’m made perfect in Christ”, “I’m justified by the cross”, “PTL for sanctification,” etc. etc. etc.

But, like, I’m still scared and walking on that tightrope sooo...help.

Here’s the thing:

The moment Jesus died on the cross, you were justified. The moment you enter heaven, you will be perfect.

The in between, the journey from justification to perfection, is sanctification. And sanctification is the most crucial part of the journey. Why? Because if it weren’t for sanctification, I don’t know that we would believe God actually loves us.

We long for approval and acceptance, and more often than not we assume the key to approval is good behavior.

I know I do. Do you assume the same?

If we were made perfect at the moment of our justification, I think there would be a little part of us that assumed God only loved us because we were perfect.

Ya know?

The fact is you were imperfect before the moment of justification. Jesus didn’t die on the cross because you deserved it. You really, truly, big fat didn’t.

What does that mean? It means He already knows how messy you are. He knew before you did. He knew, and he didn’t turn tail and run the other way. He said, Yep. Still worth it.

So you were imperfect before justification, and you’ll be imperfect after. Even still, you have been given an identity of perfection.

It’s part of the mystery of Christianity—the now-but-not-yet thing. We are justified the moment we accept the gospel, and Jesus’ perfect record covers our messy record and God the Father chooses to forget all of our sin. Boom. Done.

But we are still sinning. And we will go on sinning until we get to heaven and become our perfect selves for real.

That in between part, the now-but-not-yet, is the part where God proves he loves us.

He loves us even in the mess, even as we wallow through sin and silliness and our clunky, corrupt attempts at following Him. He says, at every turn and tumble,

Keep going. I still love you. I’m here for you.

When we finally get to heaven, and those gilded gates open wide to invite us in, we will be able to glance back at a lifetime of mishaps and say, “Wow, if He could love me then, He must really, really love me.”

And if He loves us, then game over. We are lovable. We are lovable because we are loved, not because we are good.

DID YOU HEAR THAT.

You are lovable because you are loved. Not because you are good.

Which means that yes, if you lost it all today and couldn’t be strong and whatever the heck else Adam Levine sings about, yes you would still be loved exactly the same by a God who sees you at your worst and says,

But I would die for you still.

 And if that is true, we can laugh in the face of fear that says, “If only they knew who you really were...”

Your Papa does know. And it doesn’t matter one bit.

From one of my favorite hymns:

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;

Sinner, will this not suffice?