This article first appeared on http://www.baptist.org.uk/blogs/big-hearted.html
“I have been a Christian for most of my life, led small groups and even preached in my local Baptist Church, but I have never known that God loves me…”
He wept as I prayed for him and asked God to fill him with His love. That short prayer time after speaking at one of the Big Hearted events with the London Baptist Association spoke to me about the desperate need many of us have to know we are loved. You see, without being filled with the love of God how can we pass on the message of a God who loves us so much that he gave his very best for us? To be big-hearted enough to let others ‘in’ on what we’ve got requires us to be people who know we are liked by God, not just know love as cognitive truth, but something that we encounter deep down. In my book Big Hearted that accompanies this year, I write about how our perception of who God is affects the way we communicate Him. It’s that simple. Central to our understanding of God needs to be love. We cannot give away that which we don’t have.
To represent to members of the public what we can have in abundance, one early Sunday morning I worked with Newport Baptist Church on the Isle of Wight giving away copious amounts of fruit. Some people wanted to know what fruit shop we were from but most asked why we were giving away free gifts! They were surprised to hear that each one of the different fruits represented something that we could get from God: the fruit of the Spirit. Some were flabbergasted to hear that they could encounter more love, joy and peace in their lives, from God! One lady holding the gift of a tub of strawberry’s said: “You wouldn’t know what I have been going through recently. God has sent you to me. You have given me hope.” All we had done was offer her something free that represented what we could get from God.
My prayer for us as a Baptist family is that we would be filled afresh with the love of the Father. It’s all very well me harping on about being Big Hearted, but unless we know for ourselves the Big Hearted love of our Father whose ‘…love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ (Romans 5.5) then most of us won’t have the motivation to share that love with those around us. You are loved. Now that is good news worth sharing.