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Life of the Beloved

Men smile at the illusion cherished by those in love, they “see through” their sense of uniqueness as being some trick of nature; they have got used to love. But we are not permitted to get used to the love of God.
~ Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Prayer
Truly, as Nouwen also says, ours is the life of the beloved. And there is no getting used to such a thing. I often wonder how differently we Christians would live if we really experienced ourselves as God's beloved. I have had the opportunity to speak with Christian young people on many occasions — at Church conferences, camps, retreats, etc. — and I am continually struck by the fact that hardly anybody can identify with me when I talk about being known as God's beloved. Yet it was that knowledge, that experience, that transformed my life more than anything else. Time after time, I have looked over a crowd of Christian faces and wondered, “How do you not know this? If you have not known this why are you a Christian? What keeps you going?” No wonder so many Christians leave their faith behind when they leave their parents behind.
How is it that so many of God's people have become accustomed to God's love so that those words become just another Christian catchphrase? Being known as beloved is something wondrous, something that leaves us breathless and unsure if we are going to laugh or cry, dance or fall on our faces.
Yet, over the last few weeks, I have come to suspect that I have been losing focus on the Lover/Beloved relationship that exists between God and his Church and, therefore, by extension, between God and individual believers like me. It is the joy of the beloved that has empowered me to move into the sorrows of the (god)forsaken. When I lose sight of that I too quickly become angry and overwhelmed. Yes, I think this journey is one that leads to a cruciform brokenness, but it is a journey that should be undertaken joyfully, not grudgingly. It is on a cross that we gain the certainty that we too are God's Beloved Sons and Daughters.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

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