My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  John 15:12

The body has a phenomenal way of protecting itself when injured. It sends many biological resources to the area of damage to heal and protect it as quickly as possible. In the process, scar tissue is often formed. Those tissues initially meant to protect can often become a problem, inhibiting movement or other important functions. This can also happen to us emotionally. When people injure our hearts through betrayal or rejection, we build emotional scar tissue to protect us from future harm. Unfortunately, this type of self-protection diminishes our ability to love fully.

On the unrealistic “reality” show, The Bachelor, a rose ceremony closes each episode as the bachelor extends a rose to each woman he wishes to keep on the program and sends one or more rejected girls away. At the end of the season, there are two women left, but only one rose. Both women think they are in love. You would too if you’d had amazing dream dates in exotic locations around the world! Whether real love or not, both women desperately desire to be the one chosen. But only one can be and the other will be sent home without a rose.

Years ago as I watched a heartbroken bachelorette going home alone in the limo with mascara streaming down her cheeks, it occurred to me that we will never experience any form of rejection from God. He has a rose for every one of us. He chooses each of us. He chooses YOU!  He has more than enough love to fill the holes in our hearts with authentic, powerful, never-ending and lavish love. However, we cannot fully embrace His love and in turn love others until we truly believe that His perfect love is real on a very personal level. His love is the only love where we’ve no risk of being betrayed or rejected. Once we truly believe that life-changing truth, the scar tissue on our heart can heal so that we can love others as God intends.

In our key scripture for today, Jesus commands us to love each other as He loved us. He explains the depth of His love in the next verse which says: “Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.”

How many people are you willing to die for? I know most parents would die for their children. And perhaps some spouses would willingly die for each other. Every time one of our soldiers goes off to war, he or she is willingly putting their life on the line for you and me. Jesus told us to love with this kind of commitment and intentionality. Sacrificial love is so important that he repeated himself again in verse 17: This is my command: Love each other.

Whether you are loved well by the people in your life or not, Jesus loves you completely. He has a beautiful rose just for you. Its red petals represent the blood He spilled to forgive you of your sins and reconcile you to God for all eternity. Its thorns represent the crown of thorns He wore and the pain He endured on the cross on your behalf. When you feel unloved, lonely, or rejected, remember this most important truth.

When we come to fully believe – deep in our souls – that we are unconditionally loved by God, it can change everything in our life. We can live with a new Christ-confidence that gives us great power and security to live out our purpose.  The power of such love propels us to love as Jesus commanded – selflessly and with complete abandon.  We choose love. We choose others. Because God first loved and chose us!

Oh Lord, Your love is overwhelming. Thank you for loving me so much that you sent Your only Son to die on my behalf. Please help me to fully believe and experience your powerful love in a way that fills my heart and causes me to love others as You have loved me. Amen.

Consider the question below and ask the Lord to show you how and why you may not be fully believing the lavish love He desires you to receive.

Q: What lies do you think or say to yourself about being loved by God? If you’re not sure, ask God to reveal them to you. Then, take those lies captive and write down this truth: “God loves me with an everlasting, lavish love despite my behavior. I am unconditionally loved.”  Memorize this and repeat it several times each day until you believe it deep in your soul.