One Who Is Loved
By Jeff Swart
In May of last year, I started working in the Omaha office of Word Made Flesh in the Administration Department. My short time serving here has been nothing short of wonderful. As a recent college graduate moving to a new city, I had a considerable amount of adjusting to do. Fortunately, I’ve been surrounded by a group of people that have cared for me in countless ways. Whether it’s a kind-spirited e-mail, a spoken “good job,” or a warm hug, I have and continue to feel deeply loved. I’m convinced that there is nothing in the world that can take the place of the assurance and the security that come with knowing you, in all of your ups and downs, are loved.
That confidence of being loved reminds me of the apostle John in his gospel. John uses the phrase, “The one whom Jesus loved,” at least five times throughout his writings in reference to himself (cf. John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20). At first glance, this proclamation seems at the very least a bit boastful. It might even border on outright arrogance. But if we continue to think about John’s use of this self-ordained title, we begin to see the profound beauty of his confidence in his Lord’s love. John is so sure of Jesus’ affection that he puts it in writing and in action. I doubt John could ever know that his words would be read more times than any other piece of literature throughout history. But even if he were to know this fact when he was writing, I doubt that would have changed his powerful claims to God’s love for him.
Such confidence in Jesus’ love reflects a profound intimacy in the relationship that the two of them shared. And, while John is the one who captures this image of himself in writing, I am willing to bet that there were others who felt the same way about the love of Jesus. Others who felt that they, too, were the ones whom Jesus loved.
In fact, I too am willing to go out on the exact same limb that Saint John went out on so many years ago. I know that I, too, am “Jeff. The One Whom Jesus Loved.” How can I be so sure? In Psalm 86:5, the psalmist proclaims, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” God draws those who call to him into deeper relationship, into intimacy with him. God’s love abounds for me as much as it abounds for you, your family and your community. I see it every day through who God has put in my life.
In this new journey, taking a position that requires me to raise support has only affirmed my confidence that I am loved. How else can I describe the feeling that I get every time someone tells me that they’re praying for me or that they would love to partner with me in the ministry where I am called? I am truly loved, and know that God draws me closer through these encounters. I can only hope that in my relationships the assurance of being loved is mutual. Will people be able to say of me, I know that Jeff loves me? Striving to reciprocate, in our relationships, the love that Christ has showered upon us is how I understand intimacy. Our intimacy with God is reflected in the intimacy in our relationships.
The opportunity to serve with Word Made Flesh has given me the chance to experience intimacy in a new way. As a group of people dedicated to serving Jesus among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor, my involvement is very different from those serving outside North America. My focus is on serving behind the scenes and using the gifts and skills God has blessed me with. Through using those gifts, I hope God will foster intimate relationship with those whom I am serving. At Word Made Flesh, we say that intimacy with Jesus is to be our highest calling and is our created purpose. The Word Made Flesh community has invited me into a relationship that encompasses twelve countries and countless people, most of which I’ve yet to meet. But I can say without reservation that I am loved. I am loved by my newly found community and also by my Lord. And this love and intimacy has led me to serve and share in ways deeper than I could imagine.
Jeff joined WMF in May of 2010 after completing an accounting degree from Northwestern College in Iowa. He balances his enjoyment of sports (especially baseball) with an interest in Science Fiction literature. He grew up in Wisconsin, and is the second of six children.