The Love of God
It may surprise you to know that the prominent characteristic of God the Father is love. This is contrary to what many believe about Him. God is often seen as a stern, distant, and sometime capricious deity. We do read in the Bible about God bringing judgment as a result of sin, and that judgment was severe: withholding rain so famine set in and thousands died, calling for the annihilation of entire people groups who had defiled the land of promise, even punishing His own people by allowing their homes and the temple to be destroyed and, on at least two different occasions, their people carried away as captives. Can that be loving? Yes, if you realize that the sin He was judging was separating Him from the people He loved infinitely. Free access between His chosen people and Himself is a must for love to be received and given.
We see this in John 3:16 where we are told that God loved the world so much He sent His son to save it. Or 1 John 4:8, where the aged disciple John states simply, “God is love.” Even in the Old Testament, God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 34 as a loving, patient God. Jesus was very clear in His teaching at the Last Supper that God loved the disciples, so much so that He says He doesn’t have to pray to ask God to love them – it’s already done.
Puritan writer John Owen explains that there are two aspects to God’s love:
The first is what God feels in His heart. It is an emotion, a sense of inloveness on a grand scale.
The second is the acting out of that love on our behalf: The actions of sending Jesus to redeem fallen man and sending the Holy Spirit so we can be one with God and have communion with Him flow out of the love God feels for us. It is in this outworking of the love of God that He describes Himself as a father, but also as a mother, a shepherd, and as a hen trying to gather her chicks. (1)
So, believe it. It’s true. When God looks at you, He loves you. If you are walking in relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, He doesn’t even see your sin. There is no condemnation, only love.
The old hymn “The Love of God,” sung so often by George Beverly Shea at Billy Graham Crusade rallies says it well. See two stanzas and the refrain below:
Could we with ink the ocean fill And were the skies of parchment made Were every stalk on earth a quill And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry Nor could the scroll contain the whole Though stretched from sky to sky
O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure The saints' and angels' song (2)
(1) John Owen, Communion with God (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications), p. 50
(2) Written by Rev. Benton Vespew Ellis • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC