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Am I Loved?

Updated: Apr 1


Through numerous counseling sessions, I have come to understand that most struggles in the human heart can be distilled down to one fundamental question: "Am I loved?" Does my wife still love me? Do my children love me, does my boss like me, and the ultimate question, "Does God love me?"


Why is it so challenging for us to embrace a life filled with love? Why do we find it so difficult to accept unconditional love? Why do we feel the need for a reason to be loved? Why do we tend to work so hard to be accepted? Why do we accept some and reject others? Why do we believe that we must love God first before we can accept that God loved us first?


If we are willing to interpret the Genesis story metaphorically, Adam and Eve's "sin" can offer insight into our struggle. The question "Am I loved?" did not exist in the hearts of the first humans until they made the choice to trade the blissful experience of unconditional acceptance and love in the garden for the ability to distinguish between good and evil.


They desired to think in a way that allowed them to decide which aspects of their lives to accept or reject based on personal benefit. Their decision to eat from the forbidden tree caused them to forfeit the security of unconditional acceptance and everything became conditional upon their performance. From that point forward, they learned that every choice they made would lead to either gain or loss, and human thinking increasingly became programmed to differentiate between good and bad, with the self as the reference point. We refer to this type of thinking as "binary" or "dualistic."


We cannot navigate life effectively without a thought system that enables us to choose between two options based on potential gain or loss for ourselves and our loved ones. Our foundational thinking is inherently self-centered, which is completely normal and essential for survival. However, this self-centered thinking has an unintended consequence on our relationship with a Trinitarian God who is entirely other-centred and whose thinking is based on one question: “How can I serve and bless and love others?”


We tend to attribute human characteristics to God (a concept known as anthropomorphism), leading us to think and teach that God operates according to the same operating system we do. We unconsciously believe that God scrutinizes us at every moment and accepts or rejects us based on the acceptability of our way of life, like we do.

We mistakenly assume that God is a binary thinker. Consequently, we evaluate our own behavior and judge it based on what we believe to be acceptable or unacceptable to God. With our limited insight, we dare to make decisions for God, as if God makes choices based on self-interest like we do. Most of the time, we conclude that God cannot possibly love us when we are in a bad state. And that bad state seems to be our default mode. This leads to questions like, "Am I loved at all?" and "How can God love me?"


It is from this perspective that Paul wrote to the Romans, stating, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). We have all "sinned," and we continue to "sin" because our thinking affects everything, preventing us from connecting with a God whose essence revolves around thinking precisely the opposite. We genuinely “fall short” of God's way of thinking, and as a result, we remain "lost," unable to discover the bliss of unconditional love. Our minds play a major role in this discovery. We literally need a change of mind or a mind shift to stop classifying and dividing and start to unify and receive without applying the “normal” bias.


When we reduce everything to a yes or no, self becomes the focal point of reference, inevitably leading to competition and comparison. Operating with a mindset of comparison makes it impossible to comprehend, experience, or extend unconditional acceptance, and therefore genuine love.

Most of God's children reside in this mindset for the majority of their lives. It is the consequence of what we call "original sin" and serves as the root cause of wars, murders, divorces, racism, bigotry, and exclusivity that we witness in the world.


The good news is that, like Adam and Eve, we may have lost the ability to think like God, but none of us have lost the essence of God, as we were all created in God's image. When Jesus came, his purpose was therefore not to restore God's presence to the world and to us, for it was never lost. Jesus came to restore to humanity the Godly ability to think and act in accordance with our Trinitarian identity. In doing so, he "reconciled" us to God (2Cor5:16-21).


Through his life and death he became the prototype of a new humanity that would live and think like God. Every person who accepts this truth and is willing to embark on a mind shift journey through the guidance and work of the Holy Spirit, becomes eligible to incrementally awaken to an eternal inheritance that liberates them from their own self-destructive tendencies and the curse of misguided thinking. They become part of a new community of humans where differences never result in exclusion. This humanity lives in a constant state of unconditional acceptance and finds complete satisfaction in that acceptance. They engage in the eternal dance of the Trinity and like Jesus, manifest the unseen Divine in this broken reality we call life.


God provided an intergenerational icon that shouts the answer to our fundamental cry for unconditional love: God-on-a-cross.


However, our binary thinking has even classified God-on-a-cross as "MY salvation" only, akin to personal fire insurance. We proclaim that whoever does not possess this insurance cannot be part of our highly selective group defined by clear doctrinal boundaries.

We have dared through the ages to draw boundaries between people and groups, based on our default binary model and in that way try to define God’s preferences.

If we keep Isaiah's advice in mind, “”I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work," says God. "For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think"” (Isaiah 55:8-11, MSG), we may wake up to our very foundational error.


Even Paul connects salvation with our thinking: "LET this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus" and "Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling." (Phil 2) I think in our quest for “salvation”, we may have been “working” on the wrong scaffolding with the wrong tools.


The kind of thinking that will enable us to live as though we possess the answer to the eternal question is firmly grounded in an identity of unconditional acceptance, one that will enable us to endure unimaginable harm from those we love. Like Jesus demonstrated.


And that is the Good News.

And that is salvation.

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6 Comments


Stephan Vosloo
Stephan Vosloo
Jun 11, 2023

I just love the poem and am grateful fo rthe comments. Thank you Joe.

"Relating to God is not capitalism" is one of the best I have read. Will be a quote i'll use.Logion 21,

It reminds me of Logion 21 from the Gospel of Thomas:

Mary Magdalene asked Jesus, “What are your students like? Tell us about them.”

And he says, “They’re like small children living in a field not their own.

When the landlords return and demand, ‘Give us back our field,’ the children return it by simply stripping themselves and standing naked before them.”


Stripping themselves, divesting; they take their clothes off; and they stand there naked as a wonderful symbol of both vulnerability and innocence ...…


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Hagan Nash
Hagan Nash
Jun 11, 2023

This is so beautifully written and so simple, yet so hard. I was also drawn to 1 Cor and was reminded of a paraphrase you wrote, “The Love I saw for a moment is … centrally anchored in goodness so it always hopes. It always believes that good will come from all things. It recognises goodness in all things and it ensures to the end. It never fails.” Thank you for constantly reminding us of this Love.

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Janet van Eeden
Janet van Eeden
Jun 11, 2023

This piece is so profound and explains the root cause of all our thinking. Thank you for expressing it so beautifully. Stephan! <3

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Tracey Richardson
Tracey Richardson
Jun 11, 2023

If I can only get this in totality, life would be less complicated and less fearful. However, I am grateful for the glimpses and the times when I know that I am Loved without measure.


Thank you so much for beautifully and eloquently writing this. It’s a piece that one can read in those times life feels so overwhelming and hard. A reminder that my default is constantly asking “Am I loved?”


When times of uncertainty arise to remember to ask, “ is this is this moment my human cry for love?” Instead of getting lost in the uncertainty and getting stressed and anxious. Even if it takes a while there is still a plan and I can change my…


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Thank you Father. We are under grace and not the law.


Only by your grace


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