Will Jesus still love me if I do bad things?

Katy asked the question last night while we peeled potatoes for dinner. Her voice trembled as she waited for my answer, a tear splashing down onto the countertop.

In Colossians 1:6-7, Paul writes that the gospel — the good news that Christ has saved the people at Colossae because they could not save themselves — has been bearing fruit “since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant.”

The Colossians have heard the gospel, Greek word akouo, which means “listened to it.”

They have understood it, epiginosko, which means to accept its truths — “to embrace or know the facts or principles thoroughly.”

But the Colossians have also learned the gospel, manthano, from their teacher and mentor Epaphras. They are “increasing in knowledge, learning by use and practice, becoming in the habit of it.”

Manthano is the translation of the concept found in Jesus’ command to “take my yoke upon you and learn of me.” Manthano is not only knowing and accepting the gospel, but being defined and transformed by it. Manthano is continually, practically applying its truth to your days.

Manthano takes a lifetime.

Because although I claim to be a Christian, I can stray to follow religions of my own making at any given moment:

Kellianity: I can trust no one but myself
Worksianity: I define myself by how well I perform
Circumstancianity: God is good as long as things go right

I can tell when I’m worshiping at the temples of these faiths when I lose hope. If I am disappointed in myself, it is because I have trusted in myself. If I am blinded by my circumstances, it is because I depended on them to see.

True Christianity is not just hearing and understanding and believing the gospel, then plowing ahead to live a good life of striving on your own. True Christianity is constantly, actively placing your hope in Christ – not above all works and circumstances, but instead of them. It is the practice of telling your heart that He is not the best of many solutions to your troubles, but the only solution. It is learning minute by minute that the only hope that does not disappoint is Jesus.

This manthano — making the gospel a habit — playing it over and over — applying it to your every moment — rescues you from the prison of trying to save yourself. It covers all your questions with grace.

How can I stand when things go wrong?
Jesus is making all things right.

How can I face today if I’m not as good at being a wife, mother or worker as I hope to be?
Jesus has been good enough for me.

Will Jesus still love me if I do bad things?
Dearest Katy, Jesus’ love pours out precisely because you’ve done bad things.

His strength is made perfect in our weakness — yours and mine — beloved daughter. The places where we are most disappointed in ourselves are the places where His redemption and glory shine.