By: Matt Boness
Beloved. Be-Love-Ed. Let the word seep into your soul. Say it a few more times, I’ll wait.
What strikes you about this word? Maybe it stands for and means a lot to you, maybe it means very little. Either way, it’s kind of an old fashioned word. We use it when we talk about our great aunt who passed away, “she was beloved by all who knew her.” It hardly gets dropped into everyday conversation.
My favorite modern-day preacher, Thabiti Anyabwile, has this deep, soft, calming voice and as he preaches and talks to the congregation or audience in front of him, he addresses them as “Beloved.” He does so as a continuation of use of the word toward the sons and daughters of Christ from the New Testament. As if to remind us of who we are in God’s family. We are beloved.
The Bible uses this word in many ways from Old Testament to New. In Song of Solomon, the word beloved, refers to a person; someone to long for. Jesus himself is referred to as “the Beloved” in response to the affection of a Father to his son. And later in the New Testament, Beloved refers to the body of believers; the brothers and sisters in Christ as written in letters throughout the New Testament books.
The last example is meant for a group of people, collectively, being the beloved of someone.
The word carries such deepness in the affection for the group in which it is referring. The original Greek, used in the New Testament, translated beloved from the word agapetos, a form of the word agape. Agape, is this unknowable, all encompassing, never ending, infinite love without constraint or obligation. It is a kind of love that we, as humans, can hardly wrap our head around because we, because of our nature, almost always put some kind of contingency on how far our love for someone can reach. When someone wrongs us in anyway, our love for another is lessened. It’s contingent.
To think, then, about being called beloved out of the same strain of love that encompasses all wrongs, hurts, misgivings, and troubles, from a God who loves us without wavering or faltering, creates in us huge value as creatures born in the image of this same God. We are the unfailing and never ending beloved people of a God who knows no end to his love.
Sit in that for a while.
We are the beloved. We are beloved. As sisters and brothers in Christ’s family, we are the very people that are spoken of in the New Testament, being loved endlessly by the creator of the Universe.
I pray that you find hope in the value God sees in you. I pray that you see yourself as beloved. As irreplaceable and warmly embraced as Jesus himself by a father who cares so much for you.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
-“Late Fragment” by Raymond Carver