Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

September 19, 2021: Accepting God’s Love

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God” (1 John 4:16, NKJV).

A lifelong Seventh-day Adventist, I periodically glossed over the fundamentals of Christianity while claiming status as a mature believer. A drive home after my junior year of college commenced my reform.

My semester had been challenging. God provided, but the limits of human strength, which I usually ignored, were now blatant. Guilt over personal imperfections flourished as I wrestled with a toxic family relationship. A visiting relative’s objections to God—and my insecure response— completed my spiritual crisis prerequisites.

Driving home one afternoon, I turned on the radio and encountered a sermon explaining God’s love. How basic, I thought. What more could I learn about something I had known about all my life?

Nearing home, I listened until I pulled into the garage. I turned off the radio, and, unexpectedly, started crying. Gradually, the Holy Spirit revealed why: I no longer believed in God’s love.

Misconceptions about God’s nature had convinced me that I was irreparably unlovable. The belief, though common, is dangerous. Not accepting “the love God has for us” means that we cannot value ourselves and others properly. We cannot discern God’s direction. And we cannot, in these last days, obey out of love and not fear. “I desire a true relationship,” God was saying, “let us remedy your unbelief now.”

Describing the resultant growth as arduous would be an understatement. But by clinging to 1 John 4:16, and reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice—love’s ultimate expression—my faith strengthened. May yours too.

Lord, mature us as we abide in Your daily, unconditional love. Amen.

Yasmin Phillip is a member of the New Market church in Virginia.