“He Loves Me” by Wayne Jacobsen

How do you tell an unbeliever about the gospel?

There are two basic approaches. The first approach, which is based on fear, poses hypothetical questions like, “If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would go? You could go to hell!”

I don’t doubt that this approach is effective in getting people to make a decision. I have used it myself. But this method of evangelism rarely leads to lasting transformation. Instead, it creates nervous churchgoers who are forever asking questions like, “Do I have to do such and such, to be saved?” They are more conscious of the rules for who’s in and who’s out than they are of the love of their heavenly Father.

Fear is a very effective means for motivating fallen people who care for nothing more than their own self-interest and avoiding hurtful consequences. But it is a poor basis for sharing what is supposed to be good news. A far better way for revealing gospel is to demonstrate the love of God, just like Jesus did. His was a show-and-tell gospel. He preached good news to the poor, proclaimed freedom to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind. He announced the year of the Lord’s favor.

There is no fear in love yet many Christians are trying to balance the two. They say you have to love God yet be afraid of Him at the same time. This leads to what Wayne Jacobsen, in his book He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection, calls, Daisy Petal Christianity – Christians interpreting God’s love for them through their circumstances. “I got a raise. He loves me. I lost my job. He loves me not.” When things go well, they figure they’re walking in God’s favor. When things go not-so-well, they figure they’re walking in His displeasure. Since life is full of ups and downs they are permanently insecure and confused. It certainly doesn’t help that the Bible seems to paint two contradictory portraits of the living God: a terrible Judge and a loving Father. Wayne Jacobsen asks, “Which is it? Can he be both?… So what happened to God? Did he get ‘saved’ somewhere between Malachi and Matthew?” (19-20). As I have explained elsewhere, God doesn’t change, but we do.

The root problem is that most Christians are uncertain of their Father’s love for them. They look right past the cross into the old covenant and conclude that God will not love them unless they first please Him. Never mind that Jesus gave us greatest demonstration of unconditional love the world has ever seen. Never mind that He told story after story about lost things being restored even though they had done nothing to save themselves. Never mind that He went around healing and forgiving the sick and undeserving.

A classic sign that a believer has missed the Father’s heart is that he talks more about obedience than love. Doing the right thing – and being seen to be doing the right thing – is paramount. Live like this and you’ll make “serving God” your god and miss knowing the real God. Obedience is not the bottom line. God is far more interested in whether we will love and trust Him. You can obey without trusting, but you can’t trust without obeying. Cast your mind back to the Garden of Eden and that tree. As Jacobsen reads it, this was not primarily an obedience test, but a trust test:

If obedience had been God’s only issue, don’t you think he would have made the whole scenario far clearer? He told them not to eat from that tree or they would die. He didn’t describe that death in detail… If he had they might have been obedient, but not because they trusted him. They would have obeyed only because it served their self-interest. God would merely have become a tool for their own fulfillment. Self would still have been at the center of their choice, and self would prevent them from discovering the full vitality of life in him. No, God didn’t tell them because he wanted something far better. (p.92)

Adam and Eve chose independence over trust and we repeat their mistake whenever we rely on our own strength or understanding. Doing good is just as sinful as doing bad when our motive is to prove ourselves worthy and therefore in no need of grace.

He Loves Me is a book about learning to trust in the love of your heavenly Father. If you are uncertain about the Father’s love for you, read this book. In it, Wayne Jacobsen gives one of the best descriptions I have read of what really happened on the cross. He contrasts the appeasement-view of the cross (God’s demands for justice needed to be appeased by a human sacrifice) with the Biblical view (God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ). We’ve heard that Jesus was a lonely victim of divine vengeance taking God’s whippings on behalf of humanity. But as Jacobsen explains, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were jointly executing a plan to redeem the world. This was no good cop/bad cop routine. It was a team effort.

I’ll leave you with an extended quote from the book that expresses the heart of Jacobsen’s message better than I ever could:

There are two ways to hide from God’s love – rebellion and religion. Rebellion, illustrated in the prodigal son, defies God’s love and seeks to cover up guilt and shame through the indulgence of sensual desires. Religion, on the other hand, is far more subtle. It seeks its cover-up through good works and obligation. However, like the prodigal’s older brother, it still denies the Father’s place in our lives and leads us no closer to knowing him for who he really is.

Simply, religion is keeping score – striving for acceptance through our own performance whether it be in our good works or in ritualistic activities. Those things put the focus squarely on us and what we can do to be accepted by God, thereby dooming us to failure.

Most of Paul’s letters were written because even the earliest believers found themselves trading relationship for religion. Instead of learning to live in the security of his love, they would go back to traditions, creeds, disciplines, and laws as an attempt to earn it themselves. He reminded them again and again that God’s love would take them further than their own efforts and achievements ever would…

What would you do today if you knew God absolutely loved you? God knows the answer to that question will lead you further into his life than the strivings of religion ever can. The key to a productive Christian life is not waking up every day trying to be loved by God, but waking up in the awareness that you are already His beloved. (137-8)

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10 Comments on “He Loves Me” by Wayne Jacobsen

  1. Richard Williamson // November 15, 2011 at 9:56 am // Reply

    Great post Paul…We need reminding of God’s total love and acceptance because just about everything in this world we have to earn through self effort. I’m sure the Father in the story of the prodigal son had already forgiven his son prior to his return irrespective of the son’s present behaviour and attitudes
    Thanks Richard Williamson

  2. Frustrated Guy // November 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm // Reply

    I need help… I think I’m getting tired of all this God-stuff. 😦 All of it just frustrates me and I can never find rest even if I want to… I’ve been a Christian ever since but I’m just so tired… I’m so tired of doing, hoping, and being myself… 😦

    I know Jesus is the only hope but everyone else here just misleads me.. instead of hoping, I fear, and right now I’m just so tired and immune to all this….. I don’t know, if only someone else could live my life for me..

    • Frustrated TOO // November 16, 2011 at 11:42 am // Reply

      HI! I can relate. I spend much time frustrated too. A couple weeks ago, the Holy Spirit let me know that I was trying to do things by myself and it doesn’t work that way. Christ is the Vine and we are the branches. I was trying to be a branch by myself. (I didn’t know that I was doing this & it’s a little embarrassing but at least the Holy Spirit let me know what was wrong.) I was told to Relax, Trust the Lord & let him do the work. The word “surrender was used also. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how to do these things though. I’m not going to give up though & I hope you don’t either.
      You say “if only someone else could live my life for me” – I think that’s kinda the point., let go and let Christ live this life for you. If anybody could help us with ‘How” it would be appreciated. .

    • Hey bud, I’ve been there many times. Even leaders in the church experience this (but a lot of them are too prideful to be honest about it). rest in Christ’s finished work, and there is no “step by step” because then it would be based on your performance. He’s not mad at you, He loves you :).

      sidenote: Paul’s blog posts here and also brandon’s on http://www.iamaspirit.org are super encouraging and great at pointing to Christ’s love for all of us! Much lo

    • Frustrated TOO but starting to see some light // November 18, 2011 at 11:02 am // Reply

      Me Again. Do you watch Andrew Wommack? He’s doing a series “The Power of the Cross” you can watch it at awmi.net under TV Broadcast 2011, WK 45 & 46. I’ve been watching it the past couple days & it’s giving me a direction. Many of us have been programmed by the world to be performance based & don’t even realize how ingrained it is in us. I know now that I need to get my mind changed around & re programmed to get all my efforts & work out of the way before Christ can work. I think it could relieve some of your frustration and maybe set a direction for you too. Give it a try, it can’t hurt and if you don’t know the teachings of Andrew Wommack, maybe you can find something on the site that will help you in other areas.

      Paul, If you’re reading this & I didn’t explain this right, please help us out. Thanks

    • Frustrated TOO but starting to see some light // November 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm // Reply

      HI! By your response on “Frustrated” it sounds like you’re “Getting it “and already feel relieved. ( I’m still trying to figure out how to rest HA!HA!)
      Anyway, the TV programs of Andrew Wommack can be seen at the website awmi.net on your computer.( maybe I didn’t explain that right before.) They have archives of past TV programs. I’m finding they have a lot more than what I thought on this website too! The article “Frustrated?” is a stress reliever for me and will be going back to read it over & over.
      I’m glad you responded. It sounds like you’re feeling better and I’m happy for you. I think maybe we both need to learn to “cast our cares on him”

      • Frustrated Guy // November 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm //

        Still figuring out how to rest and experience what freedom really means. Anyway thanks. We don’t have regular internet connection at home, so watching the TV program at a website doesn’t work either.

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