Let me tell you why.

I am justified by faith apart from works.

How does the event of justification shine light here, in these dark places of approval and disapproval? How does the real, actual event of being justified have any word of comfort to speak to me here, in my relationships, in how I view myself and am viewed by others?

First, we have been restored to God through Christ by the power of the Spirit. The old children’s limerick, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so, is not just a “little diddy”; it’s a deep truth. That Jesus loves us is exactly what the gospel message declares to us—a love for us while we were loveless. Paul writes,

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8)

It’s being encountered by this radical love, this mind-blowing love, this one-way love that is the quintessential element in being okay with yourself when others are not. When we are encountered by this love, by the gospel, two things happen: 1. We’re free to see ourselves for who we really are, to hear the diagnosis of God’s law: transgressor, broken, dead. 2. We are given new life, true life: beloved child of God.

This leads me to the second point: in light of being encountered by the law and the gospel and dying and being given new life, we have been given ourselves back. As Christians, we make a big deal about losing yourself. But is that the FULL story? Jesus says,

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 10:39, cf 16:25; Mark 9:41; Luke 9:24, 17:33)

I want to put a lot of emphasis on both the losing and finding. The death we suffer resulting from the encounter with the law is the act of losing. But, it doesn’t stop there; we find something too: ourselves, our lives. We lose life to gain life (as a gift). In this losing and finding—in this dying and rising—pop psychology’s attempt to make everyone okay with themselves is finally made possible. “I’m okay, you’re okay is only true in light of the declaration of an encounter with the law (“I’m not fine and you’re not fine,” Welcome Wagon) and the gospel (“There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:1).

And this brings me to my third point: God loved and loves me when I’m not okay, so you can think what you will of me because it does not define who I am.

Others’ opinions of us, no matter how accurate according to our brokenness, fall flat and voiceless. The “you’re disliked” from others is, to steal a phrase from the Apostle Paul, not worth comparing to the “You are my beloved, in you I am well pleased” that God shouts about me from heaven because of Jesus.

Originally published at liberatenet.org: http://liberate.org/2012/10/02/you-love-me-not-he-loves-me/