I've been watching too much tennis. I know for some that will seem to be an impossible thing to do and for others watching any tennis is too much! I'm not an avid tennis fan, but like many I find the lure of Wimbledon too strong to resist.
There was a fascinating chat on the BBC highlights show last week between Clare Balding, Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker. They were discussing Novak Djokovic's need to feel loved.
Apparently Djokovic is the unloved member of the big four. Nadal is loved, maybe because of his humility off court and his warrior, never say die spirit, on court. Federer is loved because he is the suave gentleman of tennis. The best player there has ever been, who gracefully dispatches opponents with a combination of ruthless shots and impeccable manners. Murray is loved because he's one of our own. A plucky Brit who's on top of the world. But Djokovic we don't warm to. Some of that maybe because he has often been Murray's arch rival. Defeating him in a number of finals.
This need to feel loved has got to Djokovic. He feels it's unfair that others are held in more affectionate regard than him. He wants the adoration of the masses.
We all need to feel loved. Because that is the way that we are created. We were made by God to live in loving relationship with him and with each other. To be made in God's image is to be made in the image of Father, Son and Spirit who are in a relationship of perfect eternal love. That is why love is one of the basic requirements of life.
In the 12th century the German Emperor, Frederick II, ordered an experiment to be carried out. A number of babies were taken from their mothers and raised in isolation. They were given all that they needed for life: food, cleanliness, warmth. They were given everything apart from affection. Within a few weeks every single one had died. We need to be loved.
The extraordinary thing is that God continues to offer us his love despite the way that we have treated him. We have failed to love him. Ignored him. Insulted him. Disobeyed him. Rejected him is every way conceivable. And yet he still loves us. He loves us with the most passionate love there has ever been. Because it is the love that was willing to go through The Passion.
As the apostle Paul puts it in Romans 5:8...
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
We don't need to look to the crowd to know that we are loved. We don't even need to look within ourselves. We need to look to the cross of Christ. Because there we find the greatest demonstration of love that there ever has been or ever will be. A love that was willing to die our death. To take our punishment. So that we might experience God's love now and forever.