Last November, some of our very good friends introduced us to Nooma films. They're short films, about 10 minutes in length, in which Rob Bell, a Michigan pastor, takes something pretty ordinary and uses it to convey a spiritual truth. I watched a few Noomas with our friends, then promptly went and bought the entire set for myself. I think they're fantastic.
The first Nooma I ever watched was titled "Lump". It is still my favorite of them all.
In "Lump", Rob Bell tells the story of his young son getting busted for lying to his mom. His shame sends him running upstairs to his parents bedroom where he hides under the covers until his father arrives home later that afternoon to talk to him. There is so much packed into this short film, so many beautiful pictures of how God uncovers OUR shame, forgives us, restores us, and sets us back on our feet. BUT what moves me to tears each time I watch it is what Rob Bell speaks to his young son...over and over and over. He says, "There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you less." And those are the Father's words to us as well. There is nothing you could ever do to make ME love you less.
Do you believe that? That there's nothing we can ever do to make God love us less?
Sadly, for most of my life I believed that there were plenty of things I could do to make God love me less, and there were plenty of things I could do to make God love me more.
You see, for years, I believed God to be some celestial bookkeeper. Sitting up there in heaven on his holy throne with his pencil in one hand and his tally sheet in the other. And every time Meredith did something bad (lied, gossiped, skipped church, said I would pray for someone and didn't, got angry, yelled at my kids or husband, said bad words, watched R rated movies, hated someone, worked in VBS with a sorry attitude) God made note of it and checked it off on the naughty list. And every time Meredith did something good (prayed, read my Bible, completed a Bible study, visited a "prospect", witnessed to a non-believer, taught Sunday School or Mission Friends or VBS or worked in the church nursery, listened to only Christian music, avoided R rated movies and smoking and drinking, etc) THEN God took note and checked it off on my good list. And let me tell you I was very, very good.
I think if you asked most Christians they would tell you that they know they can't earn God's love. But I don't think their actions always match up. I see a lot of believers trying to make God love 'em more and keep him from loving 'em less.
I like how this guy says it...
"In the process of living this way, I came to think of God as someone I controlled. I could make God angry, sad, or happy, simply by choosing how to act. If I did things good enough, God was happy. If I fouled up enough, God was angry. It seemed that I could finally control my life and, in the process, control God."---Running on Empty by Fil Anderson
Almost 4 years ago, I woke up and realized that I had been living with a faulty view of God. God isn't some scorekeeper making tally marks in good and bad columns, and God isn't someone I can contol with my actions. God is a merciful father who loves me deeply and pursues me passionately and wants to speak to me intimately. Those words from that Nooma film were suddenly REALLY true for me. There was absolutely nothing I could ever do that would make God love me less. And the flip...there is nothing I can ever do that will make God love me more. I've tried to quit striving, and rest in knowing that His love is ENOUGH...always has been and always will be. And I can't lose HIS love, ever.
"May your whole life become a response to the truth that you've always been loved, you are loved, and you always will be loved. And may you know, may you know deep in the depths of your soul, that there's nothing you could ever do to make him love you less. Nothing you could ever do to make him love you less. Nothing. Nothing."---Rob Bell, "Lump"