Being Beloved Without Doing Anything Changes Everything
Today, celebrating the Baptism of the Lord (Christian calendar, January 9), these words come as a great gift to us: “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Jesus has not begun his public ministry. He hasn’t done anything significant yet – no preaching, no healing, no organizing. He is beloved without doing anything. This character of love of God for God’s Son is the lens which reveals how God sees each and every person: We are beloved without doing anything. We cannot do anything to make God love us more, nor anything to make God love us less. But in a world that desires performance and praise, this is not easy to internalize. The sabbatical year in 1999 after my 17 years of intense ministry in Mississippi was not easy for me. Who was I apart from my work, the speaking invitations, the “importance” of what I did every day, and the recognition I received from it all? I felt irrelevant. It is not easy to believe that we matter, what we are beloved, without doing anything. It was a difficult year of internalizing that my most important identity is not in what I do or what others think of me. Yet it was an absolutely liberating journey. When we internalize that we are beloved without doing anything, the “anything” that we do is less frantic, more centered on “needful” things, less concerned about what others think of us, and less demanding of them, more accepts the reality that there is much we cannot fix or solve, and leaves more room for God to work. The discovery of true significance is a journey from performance and praise to belovedness.