The promise of Jesus Christ is that those who love and live for Him are eternally secure in Him. (John 10:28) This isn’t merit based or achievement based. It isn’t something that we lose when we mess up (or give up) because it’s a state of the heart and mind. It’s a state of faith.
Do you love Him?
This question and the affirmative answer comes before God puts His people to task on His behalf. We are Christians by faith first, then we live for Him. Faith is our connection to Him.
This reminds me of the story of Peter’s restoration by Jesus in the book of John. (John 21:15-19) It’s the story of the interaction of Jesus and Peter following his denial of Christ.
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? I mean the kind of blatant back-stabbery that cannot be explained away as a mistake.
Have you ever been disowned? I am not talking about an acquaintance you just met who all of the sudden ignores you.
This wasn’t what Peter did to Jesus. Peter spent three years following Jesus, living itinerantly with Him, eating meals with Him and being personally taught by Him.
Yet, when pressed by the persecutors Peter said he never knew the man.
Did you know at one time Peter said he would die for Jesus? (Matthew 26:35) Have any of your friends ever said they’d die for you?
Peter committed fully to Jesus and then flopped in the most horrendous friendship failure in history. Then he watched His best friend be executed publicly after He’d failed. I don’t think any of us could stand ourselves after doing something like that to a friend we love.
Yet, Peter did it and it appears he owned it. Matthew and Luke both wrote that Peter realized what he’d done and “wept bitterly”.(Matthew, Luke) The next scene of Peter and Jesus together is where Jesus initiates Peter’s restoration with a three-part series of basically the same question, “Do you love me?”
Not, “Why did you betray me?” or “Why didn’t you help me?” Simply, “Do you love me?” The basis of Jesus’ relationship with Peter wasn’t on performance, so the question of Peter’s failure didn’t come up. Jesus straightforwardly affirmed the relationship, (Do you love me?) and then delegated to Peter the work he needed to do. (Feed my “sheep”.)
I wonder at what point we become secure in our relationships with people. I think this is a thing we do unconsciously. When do we decide that someone is safe, can be trusted and therefore deserves our confidence? Most likely we are all different in this. Our experiences have given us all different insights into the worthiness of people.
Jesus doesn’t work like that.
We don’t have to be 100% safe in order to love and be loved by Jesus. We don’t have to be people with unfailing reliability so our connection with God can exist. We aren’t held by Christ to be His unwavering confidants in order to be called His friend.
We are loved by Him first, then we love on His behalf. (1 John 4:18)
His is a pre-existing love. We can’t buy it or fall out of it. (Jeremiah 31:3)
This love is a defining part of Jesus’ identity. He can be no other way because it is who He is. (1 John 4:16) His love is the foundation of something truly everlasting when we accept Christ as the Lord and live for Him.
This is the thing that eliminates eternal insecurity, although it doesn’t stop there. As our trust grows in Him and as faith becomes more rooted in our soul, it has the power to eliminate all insecurity.