The phrase “Jesus Loves You!” (with or without the exclamation point) is well known. In fact nearly all people on planet earth have heard it which of course to some extent makes the phrase a cliché. But the fact remains that Jesus does love us. He loves you, and he loves me. It can also be admitted that we all sometimes forget that God and his Son loves us. We forget in the sense that we get so wrapped up in the day-to-day pressures of life that we forget to reflect and exemplify Godly Joy as a fruit of His Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22; 1 John 4:8) Due to pressing problems such as stress on the job, making ends meet, health issues, our sinful nature, etc. we can become discouraged. And of course a large source of turmoil for many of us relates to our awakening to the flaws within the Watchtower Organization and its leadership. It has taken the place of Christ for some Witnesses, and many of us too were enmeshed in this false conviction at one time. We are here reading and commenting together on JWS because of our shared confusion and pain, even resentment. Most of us feel misled by things that have been written in the Watchtower publications that we have been forced to follow. These include how we should worship God, what we should believe, what we can and cannot do for a living, etc. Our Christian consciences have been stunted to some extent because of it. Our thinking processes have been controlled for years and we are now struggling to “grow up” spiritually as mature Christians who ought to know “right from wrong” for ourselves and be trained in our perceptive powers. (Hebrews 5:12-14) So yes, we acknowledge that Jesus loves us. I was able to find this statement just once in the Watchtower Library CD-ROM, in a 1995 magazine. It said:
Believe without reservation that Jesus also loves you, and he proved this by dying for you. (John 3:16) (The Watchtower 1995 11/1 p. 27 Comfort for Those With a “Stricken Spirit”)
If we dwell on this simple, “clichéd” fact at least once or twice a day how might that affect us? Would some of our anger and hurt over the injustices of our situation melt away or lessen? Perhaps yes. And in sharing our faith and encouragement with others, a simple “Jesus Loves You” expression or idea can go a long way. It does not always have to be articulated in those exact words of course. There are a myriad of ways to build someone up while sharing the love of the Christ and the good news (gospel) with a person. Fellow believers and non-believers alike can benefit from it. The simple truths of God’s word and of his Son are not complicated. Meditate for a moment if you can on Romans 10:9. This beautiful, clear, and inspiring verse of the Bible simply says this:
If you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. (NWT)
Two other translations render it this way:
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (NIV)
If you should acknowledge in your mouth the Lord Jesus, and should trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be delivered. (Apostolic Bible)
Barne’s commentary makes a brief remark on the final part of this verse about our salvation when it says, “This is the doctrine of the gospel throughout; and all this shows that salvation by the gospel was easy.” This illustrates that gaining salvation and a good conscience before God does not have to be excruciatingly difficult. We do not need to live the life of an ascetic, nor do we need to impress other believers with our rigid devotion to meetings, hours spent in formal preaching, or how well our magazine is underlined and how many notes we have written into the margins of it on Sunday. Our devotion to God is personal and it can be natural and easy; it’s not a burden when we follow His commands, as opposed to following commands of men that bind up heavy loads upon our back. (1 John 5:3; Matthew 23:4)
But sometimes it takes courage to share a positive message with someone informally. Witnesses and other Christians alike understand how hard it is to “informal Witness” as it is called at the meetings. Whether we express our faith in the love of God and Christ publicly before a crowd of people, or to a coworker while in a break room, or to family members over a meal, it is a requirement of our faith is it not? One example that touched me recently was while watching a singing competition on television called The X Factor. A young girl name Drew was narrowly voted off of the show, in front of an audience of millions. It was a tearful moment for her, and even for some of the judges- including Simon Cowell, who you would expect to be hardened to that sort of sentiment. When the microphone was given to this young teen she said that the reason she was on the show was because she wanted everyone to know that Jesus loves them, and that she had not been allowed to say it sooner but now she felt she just had to, and that’s the main reason she did the show to begin with.
A wave of emotion hit me instantly; appreciation and love for God first. But also pride for this young girl, who no doubt was brought up in the Lord by her parents. She is our little sister in the faith. She is trying her best to be a Christian! She was witnessing about Jesus out of a sincere heart. (Rev 1:9 NWT) By telling everyone in attendance, indeed the “whole world” that was viewing her up front and center onstage this simple truth, she lived the gospel in that moment. Should we be proud of her courage and her true expression about our Master Christ? Some no doubt thought her comment cliché and silly. A check of the blogosphere confirmed this. Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses would undoubtedly feel the same way about her exclamation, but I no longer shared that opinion. I swelled with pride and joy at what she said.
Tens of MILLIONS of people heard her words. In those few seconds did she do more good than the 7 million active publishers did in the last month or the last year in their witnessing work? Only God and Christ know for sure. But how ironic if that was the case. How many people out of the millions that heard her words on a singing reality show will consider this simple truth and become believers? Or reconnect with God and Christ again because of her words? Or even go to church for the first time or pick up a Bible and read some of it? I believe a few, or perhaps even hundreds will- and that is an encouraging thought. It brings praise to the Father and especially to the Son that have inspired so many and by the love they first showed to us as sinners.
A person can memorize dozens of proof-text scriptures, and be prepared to refute false teachings such as the trinity doctrine or hellfire, but what does that really accomplish in the long run? Might a shorter route to a person’s heart be through Jesus and the love he has shown us by dying for our sins? An individual Christian could mitigate so much stress and fear by pondering those simple words often. They would truly then be helping themselves and those who listen to them- indeed, Jesus DOES love us, for the Bible tells us so. Sounds like a cliché doesn’t it? Happily we say, “so be it”.