THE BELOVED OF GOD
WE REALLY ARE
The great news of the gospel of Jesus
Christ is that God is a lavish, prodigal, extravagant Lover and
we are the beloved of God. Being the beloved is not the opposite
of being a sinner. "Sinner" and "beloved" are not mutually
exclusive terms. We are not either sinners or the beloved. We
are beloved sinners and the sinful beloved. This is why the
statement, "You are my beloved son/ daughter on whom my favor
rests," conveys the good news. The good news is, first, a
revelation of who God is and, second, a revelation about who we
are and what God offers and hopes for us.
Some truths are truer than others. Whereas
it is true that we are sinners, the radical message of the
gospel of Jesus is that our belovedness is a truer truth than
our sinfulness. Before there was original sin there was original
splendor. Unlike our sinfulness, which is expressed most
tangibly in what we do or fail to do, our belovedness has
nothing to do with what we do. It is a reality before we do or
think or say anything. Our belovedness is rooted in who God is
and, therefore, who we truly are at the core of our being as
children, images, and partners of God. For Christians,
belovedness is similar to what Buddhist mean by "our original
face" before we were born. Our belovedness is our spiritual DNA.
It cannot be changed or denied. Our sinfulness (let alone human
frailty, miscues, wrong turns, or foibles), does not trump or
negate our belovedness because our be-lovedness is solely
dependent on God who is extravagant lover.
Belovedness is not ours by right or reward.
Rather, it is the deepest reality of who we are as sacred images
of God. Belovedness is not something we ourselves can bring
about, induce, or influence. Our belovedness is "as it was in
the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end."
What remains to be seen is whether our life is an "Amen" to this
truth. When we truly realize our belovedness we are likely to
experience an "incredible lightness of being." Awakening to our
own or other people's belovedness, to the belovedness of
creation, often elicits existential embarrassment, awe,
gratefulness, tears, joy, and incredible freedom.
"We forget so quickly that we are God’s
beloved children and allow the many curses of our world to darken our
hearts. Therefore we have to be reminded of our belovedness and remind
others of theirs.”
But from what and for what are we freed?
Freedom from perfectionism and scrupulosity; freedom from fear
or reducing the spiritual life to following rules in order not
to disappoint God or to make God mad or to avoid punishment.
Freedom for responsiveness. Knowing we are unable to earn our
belovedness frees us to experience it as ineffable mystery and
divine gratuity. Knowing we cannot perform for it or do anything
to deserve or acquire it, frees us simply to accept and respond
Sinfulness, among other things, is the
fruit of not believing in or honoring our own or others'
belovedness, that is, not believing in who God is. Although
there are many people (including some, if not all, of us at
times) who do not know or think of themselves as the beloved of
God, in truth there is no human who is not the beloved. For
Christians, it is impossible to believe someone is human but not
the beloved of God. I am the beloved, you are the be-loved,
because of who God is-the one, true, wild and extravagant Lover.
Holiness is the graced response to the incomprehensible surprise
of our belovedness, the only appropriate response to God who not
only created us this way but who invites us into a partnership
characterized by passionate, prodigal Love.