God our Father
In the last post, I talked about what God thinks about sin, about how God hates sin and even though he loves us, he has to punish sinners as an example to the rest of us, so that we might repent and strive to live holy lives like Christ. Now I am writing about what God really thinks of us, as children of God.
I am sure pretty much everyone has heard at least once in their life that God loves you. It is a phrase repeated so often that it actually loses meaning on us. For some, like me, we would look at our life, the way we live and the things we do, and start to believe that God couldn't love someone as deep in me. Or others just hear that and say, "I know," but completely forget about God after that. But once you truly understand what it means when God tells you, specifically, that he loves you, it will change you.
So first, what is love? Again, I am going to look at a couple passages of Scripture looked at so often that they lose meaning. But in doing this, I hope to shed a new light on these verses and the meaning of "God loves you." John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
And right there, with those two verses alone, we now know the character of God. He loves us immeasurably. He loves us enough that he sent his son Jesus Christ, to live in temptation on this earth, but to die a sinless death and rise from the grave. He loves us enough that he has made a way for us to spend all eternity with him, simply by putting faith in Jesus. And the love the he gives us is a love that only wants good for us; he wants to provide for us here on this earth, and he wants us to obtain that same kind of love so that the way we love others looks different from the world. The rest of the world cannot love like Christ does, because love is selfless, and the world is selfish. But more importantly, the love that comes from the world is temporary, and one day will pass away into the lake depths of Hell, and all those living in the world with it. But those of us whose love is not of this world, whose love comes from Christ and the loves that goes out from us is evidence of Christ, that love will never go away. God is going to create a new earth, where there will be no end to this love, and there will be no love that is not from God. And there isn't a single thing that anyone can do to prevent this culmination of God's love from coming.
But why does he love us? You can understand all that above, and have it mean nothing if you don't understand why God loves us. Ben Stuart spoke at Breakaway last year about why God loves us, and he used an analogy that was incredibly powerful to me. Ben had just become the father to a baby daughter, and he realized that he loves this little baby even though he really has no reason to. The baby cannot get a job, it can't clean the house, it can't even feed itself. Moreover, the baby cries at night, making the life of the father more difficult; it makes a mess of its diapers because it does not know how to use a toilet. In short, this baby brings only problems and difficulties to the father that were never there before, and it cannot do a single thing that would make all these little problems right. And yet, Ben is completely enamored with this child; he loves her more than anything and would do more for her than anyone. And why? Because he made her. Ben and his wife Donna, made this child, by the grace of God. No one else could make a baby quite like the one they have made, and for the sole reason that they made this child, they love her, unconditionally. For months, this baby will not even know that her parents love her, and for years after that it will never really make sense; all that she will know is that her parents love her and provide for her the absolute best that they can. And in return, all the parents ask for is is that she love them in return.
So why does God love us? He loves us because he made us as his greatest creation. He formed this entire world out of nothing, and then out of the dust of the world he made us to be stewards over everything that he had made. God loves us because he is our true heavenly Father and those who know Christ are his adopted sons and daughters. Just as a father receives joy when he gets to be with his child, so our Father gets joy when he spends time with us. He is a true Father who will never leave us, who wants to get close to us and who wants us to know him more. He wants to provide for us, and he wants us to know that he is taking care of us, and we know this because we can feel his love on us. And we know God loves us simply by looking at all that has been made, and knowing that only a God who loves us would create for us a place so full of beauty and wonder that perfectly reflects Him.