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How can God love me?

Many people feel unworthy of God's love, which is why they need to be encouraged to approach God just as they are, writes Baptist minister and counsellor Patrick Coghlan

Just as you are250I am a Baptist minister based in rural North Norfolk, the manager of a Christian Counselling Centre in a small Market town, and an author of family fiction and Christian resource material. Just as you are is book number twenty-seven.

People often ask me where my inspiration comes from. The short answer is that it comes from God. The longer answer is that he usually inspires me through the work I do and the people I meet. 

As a minister, I have met a number people who have truly believed that they were not good enough to go to church. As a counsellor, I have had numerous people sitting in front of me struggling to believe that God could possibly love them. 

For some who have had controlling, abusive or estranged fathers in their lives, the whole concept of having a close relationship with a father figure is totally alien to them. Others believe that God only loves us when we are good – because their earthly father’s love for them was always conditional. And many have never had any really loving relationships in their lives. 

When someone has been let down by nearly everyone around them: how can they start to trust in God? Someone with low self-esteem may feel unworthy of God’s generosity. Some in middle age or the autumn of life might just feel that they have left it too late to think about spiritual things. 

There are all kinds of reasons why people need to be encouraged to approach God just as they are.

One day, I was counselling someone who had expressed feeling totally unworthy of God’s love, and she stated that she believed God couldn’t possibly love her because of her past. At that moment, I felt an overwhelming urgency to write a book about the enormity of God’s unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness.

My initial title was to be Loved and valued by God… But then I changed it to Just as you are; emphasising that God loves and accepts us all just as we are, when we reach out to him in faith - by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus. After all, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standards (Romans 3:23). 
 
 

One day, I was counselling someone who had expressed feeling totally unworthy of God’s love, and she stated that she believed God couldn’t possibly love her because of her past. At that moment, I felt an overwhelming urgency to write a book about the enormity of God’s unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness.



In the past I have been criticised for over simplifying the Christian message; but I believe that it is so important to meet people where they are, but in a way that is not patronising. 

For those who are feeling vulnerable, unloved or have no sense of value or worth, I try to take a gentle approach as I strive to encourage them to hear what God is saying to them through scripture.

In Just as you are we look at many of Jesus’ wonderful parables – what better place to start! Wonderful stories: easy to understand, but at so many different levels – and oozing with the unconditional love and acceptance of the Triune God (God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit). I try to give a lead through their brokenness to feel that love and acceptance.   

For others, the strength of the book is a journey of spiritual growth through many of Jesus’ much loved parables: learning more about the kingdom and kingdom living.

Have you ever thought about the Parable of the Good Samaritan as not just being about loving others, but also about learning to receive love and assistance from others? What about the abusive employer in the Parable of the Lost Son? 

Do you know what the nature of the precious treasure is that lies within us all, that is represented by the lost coin – that which the Holy Spirit is seeking out?

In Just as you are I try to encourage the reader to open up the different layers and examine unusual angles in the parables – as well as those more obvious lessons. 
 
The message of Just as you are is so simple: God’s love for us all though undeserved is unconditional, unending, accepting and forgiving. He wants to be in a personal relationship with each one of us – for eternity.

All we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour – and that is the start of a new life… A wonderfully exciting and rewarding eternal journey.
 

Patrick Coghlan is minister of Worstead Baptist Church, in the heart of the North Norfolk countryside; he is a trustee of and chaplain for Aylsham and district Care Trust; and he is manager of ‘4C’s Aylsham’ Christian Counselling Centre (housed in the ACT building).

Patrick has written a number of Christian resource books and family novels. Contact him on patrick@coghlan22.freeserve.co.uk 

Just as you are is published by www.matthewjamespublishing.com



 
Baptist Times, 01/10/2015
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