Lisa Bevere doesn’t mince words when sharing that before she came to Christ, she was a “complete heathen.”
“I did not have any righteousness that I could bring to God,” Bevere told The Christian Post. “And there's a lot of people that live great lives and then they become a Christian. That was not me.”
Today, the 62-year-old mother and grandmother is a globally-recognized ministry leader — she and her husband, John, lead Messenger International — a sought-after speaker and bestselling Christian author. According to Bevere, the reason for this dramatic shift is simple yet profound: She experienced the radical, all-consuming, fierce love of God.
“I experienced this love that consumed everything that was trying to unmake me,” she reflected.
“When I first became a Christian, I was in awe of God's love for me, and then wanting to surrender my life to do work for Him. And it had come to the place that He had to say to me, ‘Lisa, who you are to me is more important than anything you will do for me.’ He said, ‘You are first and foremost, my daughter.”
To this day, Bevere said that when she prays, she feels God speaking to her as a daughter: “He never says ‘wife of John Bevere;’ He never says ‘mother of four sons,’ He never says ‘grandmother of almost six,’ He never says ‘author, speaker.’ He says ‘daughter.’ And that relational connection is so important. Too many people get so busy doing things for God, they neglect to do it with Him.”
The Psalmist David, Bevere said, had a revelation and deep understanding of God’s love, as demonstrated in Psalm 139.
“He said that God's love was basically innumerable, constant … when God looks at us, He says, ‘How precious are your thoughts towards me?’ That’s God looks at each and every one of us. He said, ‘If I could number them, they would outnumber the sands on this the sea shores.’ And then He said, ‘And when I wake you are still there with me.’”
But over the years, Bevere began noticing that far too many professing Christians don’t have a full awareness of God’s love for them; reacting out of anger instead of love, extending judgment instead of compassion and concentrating on their smallness instead of God’s magnitude. Other times, she said, people feel God is ashamed of them, or they have to earn His love.
“We do not live in a day of pause and ponder. We do not live in a day of sacred spaces. We do not live in a day where we actually just recognize God's love for us in everything that we see,” Bevere said.
It was the belief that God’s love isn’t passive; it’s entirely present and pursuing, and a desire to share that belief with the world that compelled Bevere to write the 90-day devotional Fiercely Loved: God's Wild Thoughts about You. In it, she examines how, exactly, God thinks about His children and how a full and correct understanding of God’s fierce love will transform His Church and the way it interacts with the world.
“When I receive love, I can give love,” she contended. “If I feel judged, I'm going to judge. If I feel shame, I'm going to shame other people. If I feel blamed, I'm going to make excuses for myself.
So when you receive the love of God for you, then you actually have a capacity to love others. And that's why God's like, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, your all your heart, all your strength.’ …We love Him, and He loves us. As I pursue God, I actually become more who I really am. So when I have received the love of God and somebody does something hateful to me, I'm going to respond with love.”
There is, she lamented, a “lack of humility” in churches that compels them to respond with love. She pointed to the way some Christians have reacted to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, ending federal support for abortion, accusing one another of not saying enough or simply saying the wrong thing.
“I'm like, ‘What in the world?’ Does the Body of Christ have an auto-immune disease where we're just going to attack ourselves? Because right now, I don't see people actually being able to look at the Body of Christ and say, ‘Oh, we're going to know about Jesus because they love each other so well,’” she said.
“I don't see people who have received the love of God,” she continued. “I see people who have somehow turned into Pharisees who are actually looking for reasons to exclude or discount other people rather than love because love calls us higher and love believes the best. … When I have a subtleness that God loves me, then I can actually be kind to other people who are cruel to me. And kindness is not an endorsement. Kindness is actually what leads a lot of people to repentance.”
In an increasingly digital age, Bevere reflected on how Christians can practice love when posting on social media, especially when it comes to hot-button issues. She shared how, when she celebrated the overturning of Roe on Instagram, she received some hateful replies.
“A young girl who was obviously upset said, ‘You know, why do you even care? You're going to be dead in five years, you'll never see the overpopulation,’” Bevere recalled. “And I just responded to her and said, ‘I know you're afraid. Don't believe the lies.’”
Christians, she said, are called to “look behind the slap to turn the other cheek,” adding: “It's not that God wants us to be hit again; you have to say what's really going on in this person's life? We don't answer according to our culture, we answer according to the Kingdom, which means we are ambassadors of a King. And that means I’ve got to actually respond the way Jesus would want me to respond. And He loves people; He loves frightened people, He loves people that are captive. He loves people that are listening to lies. He loves people that have been wounded by the Church.”
Once a believer truly grasps God’s fierce love for them, they can truly lead with love, the ministry leader emphasized. And she prays that through her book, readers will experience God’s love for them as it chips away at “every stronghold of lies that say they’re less than.”
“I hope that love will begin to make them who they were always created to be, and it will just open their eyes to the wonder of a God who is love — not a God who has love but a God who is love, and just love them into a place of wholeness.”
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org