“Yes, there is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and from within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: “You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.” I’ll never forget encountering this sentence for the first time in Henri Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved. It stopped me in my tracks. I wasn’t sure I could believe it about myself – that God would love me like God loved Christ.

“You are my beloved.” Such a simple and yet, such a powerful statement – so easy to say and yet so hard to believe about ourselves, isn’t it? Nouwen goes on to say that the biggest obstacle to knowing God’s love is that we can’t seem to hold on to this simple truth when we are hurt, rejected, abandoned or when we fail.

I’m wondering two things: What might the world look like if we all knew ourselves to be claimed and loved? What might the world look like if we all knew one another as claimed and loved?

I would suggest that when we truly believe this about ourselves – that we are beloved – we can’t help but believe it about others as well. I know that might sound a bit idealistic but isn’t that what Jesus modeled throughout his life and ministry? Didn’t He model a ridiculously expansive grace that even his closest followers wished he would tone down?

I can almost hear some of you now coming back with the “Yes, but” response. “Yes, but Jesus was God.” Yes, but we don’t live in the same kind of world. “Yes but.” “Yes, but.” Yes, but.” Can I suggest that for the remainder of this Lenten journey, we change the “Yes, but” to “What if?”

What if Liberals and Conservatives…

What if African and Anglo Americans…

What if White and Blue Collar workers….

What if Catholic and Protestant Christians…

What if Muslims and Jews…

What if we all began by seeing one another first as beloved?

What if….you fill in the blank.

God breaks into the human story to name and claim and love us. “You are mine. You are beloved.” That’s the beginning of our story. What will be the rest of our story?

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