When it comes to the Olympics, it seems as if there are always certain athletes that give the Games a personal touch for us. In the 1994 Winter Olympics, we all wanted to see the women's skating showdown between Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding. In 1998, it was two teenagers named Michelle and Tara. Michelle Kwan was heavily favored to leave Japan with the gold medal; 15-year-old Tara Lapinski was expected to bring home the silver. But in a stunning performance - and Olympic upset - Tara Lapinski captured the gold. Michelle Kwan - who had skated an almost flawless program - was disappointed, but gracious. She won a silver medal that so many would love to win, but you know it still had to hurt. Some of that hurt slipped out as she sent a message to her family as TV carried it around the world. She said, "I love you, Mom and Dad, and Karen and Jimmy. I hope you still love me."
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "Love Even When You Lose."
"I hope you still love me." That's not just a feeling disappointed Olympians have felt. Many of us have had those moments when we have wondered, "Can you love me like this even though I've failed you?" or "hurt you?" "I'm not very lovable right now."
It's just a fact that a lot of love in our lives is "performance love" - people will love us if we perform. Athletes know you're only as good as this week's game. Sales people know a company and co-workers base your worth on this month's sales. Did you get the grades? Did you get the win? But who loves you when you lose? When you're not as young and attractive anymore? Who loves you when you've blown it? When you can't do the things that have always brought you approval? You may know all too well the sting of love that used to be there for you, love that was supposed to always be there - it's gone.
Conditional love. There are lots of people who are willing to say, "I love you if..." What your heart cries for though is someone who will just say, "I love you. There is nothing you can do to make me love you more. There is nothing you can do to make me love you less. I have made my choice - I love you. That will never change."
Maybe you think that kind of "never-leave-you" love is impossible. Well, there really is a love you cannot lose - because it's a love you cannot earn. The undeniable proof of that love is described in our word for today from the Word of God, Romans 5:8. "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." In other words, God loved us enough to sacrifice His one and only Son for us - even though we were doing the things God hates.
Maybe you've tried to earn God's love by being a good person, a religious person, a Christian person. But God says clearly that the way to begin a relationship with Him is "not by works" (Ephesians 2:9). It's by His "grace" - which means undeserved love. All your goodness cannot erase the sinning of a lifetime. Sin puts us on eternity's Death Row. But even with all our sin-garbage - totally unlovable spiritually - God sent His Son to die for us. If He did not turn His back on you when His Son was hanging on that cross for you, He will never turn His back on you.
Once you put your total trust in Jesus to be your Rescuer from your sin, you have His unloseable love. And on your very worst days, you can ask God, "Do You love me like this?" - and you know He will always answer, "Yes." This is the love your heart has been aching for all these years. He's within your reach right now. Tell Jesus you're giving your life to Him. And if you want to begin with Jesus, I hope you'll let me send you the booklet I wrote about this relationship called Yours For Life.
Imagine - never unloved again. Never another day alone. Not because you deserve it - you can't. But because Jesus died to remove what could ever take you out of God's love. He made His move on the cross. It's your move now.