It’s a new year and time to review the past and make plans for the future. My past resolutions have had the common threads of striving for the good life. The happy life. The comfortable life. The charmed life. The beautiful life.
In this new year, I resolve to live the Beloved life.
And the funny thing is, there is no striving needed to live the Beloved life. Jesus already calls me His Beloved, but sometimes I let the rantings of the world drown out His voice. I spend too much time living the defeated life. The thwarted life. The striving life. The discontented life. The fraudulent life. I don’t want to spend one minute of the new year conceding to any of those lying lives.
Just as God declared to Jesus, “You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.” So He says to me and to you. We are His Beloved.
I think of the apostle John as someone who lived a Beloved life. He was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, but he referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20, 24). It might seem like John had a lot of audacity, but what he really had was the blessed assurance of Jesus’ love.
Nowhere in John’s gospel does it say Jesus pulled him aside, singled him out and proclaimed He loved John more than the others. If Jesus had done that, I’m quite sure John would have shared that scene with us. John (hilariously) lets us know he ran faster than Peter to the tomb (John 20:4), so I’m confident he would have told us if Jesus bestowed an honor to him that wasn’t meant for others.
No, John does quite the opposite. He not only lives, breathes and wears the banner of being loved by Jesus, but it’s in his gospel that we read that we, too, are invited to be the Beloved. John records Jesus’ prayer to God in which Jesus invites all believers – first His disciples (John 17:11) and then every other believer who follows (John 17:21) – to be one with Him as He and God are one.
Don’t let that slip by – Jesus says He wants His followers to be One with Him as He and God are One. He wants no distance between Himself and His followers. We are invited, not just to worship Jesus from afar, not to put Him on a shelf with all the other reverent objects we don’t touch, but we are invited into holy relationship with Him. He invites us to be loved and live the life of the Beloved.
And the life of the Beloved is really His only offer. Jesus doesn’t offer a casual or tepid relationship. He doesn’t offer acquaintance status for believers. Nor does He merely offer a glimpse of Himself at a holy, unreachable distance.
He offers all of Himself and desires full devotion from His followers. And to His followers He so lavishly gives the true life. The contented life. The peaceful life. The abundant life. The courageous life. Eternal life. The Beloved life.
Henri Nouwen says that in living the life of the Beloved we switch from, “living life as a painful test to prove that you deserve to be loved, to living it as an unceasing ‘Yes’ to the truth of Belovedness…. Life is a God-given opportunity to become who we are, to affirm our own true spiritual nature, claim our truth… but most of all, to say ‘Yes’ to the One who calls us the Beloved.”
How would this year – or your life – be different if you claimed and accepted being Jesus’ Beloved?
The Beloved is woven into the fabric of every single believer in Jesus. We need only clothe ourselves in that truth every day of this new year. And then every day beyond until we meet Jesus face-to-face and He calls us then what He calls us now: Beloved.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
“Late Fragment” by Raymond Carver
The beautiful necklace pictured above is available on Etsy here.