I asked my students to close their eyes and imagine a room full of people who loved God with deep affection. Then I asked them to imagine that those same people also loved others with deep affection.
Go ahead, you can do the same thing and I’ll ask you what I asked my students.
Now, with your eyes still closed, tell me what you hear. Got it?
Now, while you mill around the room, tell me what you feel.
In other words, what does a room filled with people who love God and love their neighbor (the two greatest commandments) sound like? And how does it make you feel?
Most of my students said that the room was filled with happy and sincere chatter. They said it was like a singing conversation that made them feel glad, contented, joyful. One student said that it made her feel at home. Another said that it made him feel wanted.
I find that answer, “wanted,” fascinating. It really cuts through all the other descriptors, down to one of our most fundamental desires. We desire to be wanted and when we know we are wanted, then we feel content, joy-filled, glad, at home, and motivated. Isn’t that what our closest friends give us? They make us feel wanted.
It doesn’t take much thought exploration to realize that being wanted holds great power across life’s spectrum.
What would our marriages feel like if we practiced wanting each other? Or how strong and radiant would our children be if they knew, deep down in their bones, that they are wanted? Would our employees work better and more effectively? Good grief, even our pets perk up and live longer when they know they’re wanted.
Think of it this way: we might convince ourselves that we love someone (a child, a student, a spouse) without actually liking that person. We can keep saying, “I love you” until we’re blue in the face, but it will just be an exercise in self-deception unless we like the person too.
We want to be loved, yes, but we really want to be liked, wanted, treasured.
If we all want to be wanted in our earthly relationships, how much more so in our relationship with God? We long to be wanted by the divine. We want that assurance at such a deep level that some verses bring tears to the eyes because they remind us that we are, indeed, wanted.
Consider Zephaniah 3:17, which says, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Or 1 John 3:1, which asks us to open our eyes and “see what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
We know how unworthy we are; in fact, sometimes we’re guilty of fixating on just how unworthy we are to be wanted by friends, or a spouse, and especially by God. But the Gospel assures us that we are wanted by him and that message is powerful to move us. When we truly believe that God wants us, that he has great affection for us, then our affection for him grows and we are motivated to serve him wherever we can.
So here’s one quick takeaway for life:
- If you want to marshal people to action, then you must demonstrate that you want them.
And here’s one last thing: God wants you.