Recap: The Life of the Beloved
Jesus’ newly affirmed identity as The Beloved was tested after his baptism in water and the Spirit. The three desert temptations in Matthew 4:1-11 are common to all people, but Jesus overcame them – our model to defeat evil. As Jesus later set his face to Jerusalem to die, the Father ‘broke the sound barrier’ for a second time (on Mount Tabor) saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased, listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). This confirmed the Life of the Beloved (as Henri Nowen writes in his book by that title), that Jesus’ life – and ours as his Beloved – is Taken, Blessed, Broken and Given.
Practically, how then do we actually become God’s Beloved?
Henri Nouwen’s key point is that we must listen to the voice that whispers deep inside us, the voice of the Father that proclaims and affirms our Belovedness. We hear so many voices inside and outside of ourselves that continually say, “You are no good, you are ugly, you are fat, you are worthless, you are nobody…” These negative destructive voices reinforce our poor self-image and our self-rejection. To overcome these voices we must continually hear and believe the Father’s voice that says to us (quote from Nouwen, page 30-31):-
“I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mind and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you may favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hand and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate that that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever your rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse… yes, even your child… wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.”
How do we hear this voice? How do we daily appropriate the reality of our Belovedness? By practicing The ABC (D&E) of Becoming the Beloved as often as you can through the day:
A – Accept the truth of what God says about you in Christ. To accept that you are God’s Beloved is to make a decision that what God says is true (fact, reality) – silencing the other voices inside and outside of yourself that contradict what God says.
B – Believe that you are God’s Beloved. To believe is to act on what you trust is true; then you discover it’s true and begin to experience the living reality of the truth.
C – Confess that you are God’s Beloved. To confess is to verbally agree with God. So speak it out loud, repeating God’s words, “…… (your name), You are my daughter/son, my Beloved, I’m pleased with you, I delight in you, I favor you!” Wash your brain with these words as often as you can throughout the day till you actually feel God’s love for you! Write out Nouwen’s quote and place it on your mirror, then repeat/pray it morning, noon and night.
D&E – Daily Explore, embrace, experience, the reality of your Belovedness in Christ. How? By practicing the ABC, and by discerning and receiving God’s love in every event of every day. God is pouring his love into you in every moment – recognize and receive it!