It’s not you … it’s me.
I wonder how many of you have heard that line before? You might have heard it in films or on TV. You might have heard people using it in real life. You might have had it used on you, or you may even have used it yourselves. It’s usually used to end a relationship, or to explain away problems in a relationship. It’s supposed to be a way to make the person who is being dumped or ignored feel less bad about it. It’s not anything you’ve done, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s all my fault, it’s down to me. Of course, this is unlikely to make the person being waved off think “Oh well then, that’s all right”. In fact, a lot of the time the person saying it doesn’t even mean it, they just hope that if it looks like they are claiming responsibility, it will somehow make them look less bad. As if by trying to take the blame for whatever is wrong, they can somehow dodge it.
The truth is, in any human relationship there is always a bit of both going on. If someone loves you it is, at least in part, because of something about you. Someone will like you because they see something likeable in you. It might be how you look (how shallow!) Or something you do. It might be about the things that you are into, the places you’ve been, they way you talk or act. It might be because you have a lot in common or because you are so very different. It might even just be because you love them. It’s much easier to love someone who loves us. There is one relationship though that isn’t like that. There is one person whose love for us really isn’t because of anything we do. Have you ever wondered why God loves you?
Because of the way all our other relationships work, we often think it’s because of us. We think that God only loves us because of something we do. And that can be pretty scary, because it means we have to keep on working to earn his love. What can we do to earn God’s love? How can we make him love us more? Well, there is good news! We can’t.
The Bible makes it clear. God doesn’t love us because of our behaviour, Romans 5 verse 8 tells us that God’s love for us was enough that even while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. He doesn’t love us for doing good, or going to church, or giving money to charity. So, does he love us because we love him? Well, no. 1 John 4 verse 19 tells us that we love him because he loved us first. Not the other way around.
So, why does he love us then, if it’s not any of these things? See, we’ve got it the wrong way round as usual. This time it really isn’t about us. It’s always about him. He loves us because that is what he does. The Bible tells us God is love. It is in his nature. That is what the definition of love really is, it’s one of the basic parts of God’s character. And that means there is nothing we can do to make him love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make him love us less.
Yes, we should obey God and try to live good lives. But we obey him because he already loves us, not the other way around. And because he loves us, Jesus died to pay the price for our sins, so we don’t have to. All we have to do to be saved is to accept what he has done for us and let his love come in to our lives and fill them.
So you see, really, God is the one who truly can say, it’s not you ….