Some would argue that, given all the suffering in this world, God couldn’t possibly love us. And I think we might agree that there are days when God’s love indeed seems quite remote. Does he really love us as the church proclaims?
The Bible teaches that God loves us. The apostle John makes it very clear in John 3:16 that, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” In 1 John 4:8 he goes so far as to say that, “…God is Love”.
But does God love me as an individual? Or am I just a member of “the world”?
Let’s take a brief look at what we know to be true about God’s love.
When God created our planet for us, he didn’t just throw together a functional habitat that would keep us alive and fed. He fashioned it in perfect beauty and made us to live in awe of his creation (Genesis 1-2). The spring blossoms shout loudly that God loves us. When we gaze at the horizon and hear the roar of the ocean we know that God wants us to gasp in pleasure at the sheer magnificence of it all.
God created everyday miracles such as these for me to enjoy! Such is his love.
We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and we’re encouraged throughout the Bible to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to love each other (John 13:34-35). We, in his image, are to experience love. This is surely the reflection of a God who loves us.
When we stood amidst God’s perfect beauty in the Garden of Eden, we rebelled against him and he responded with love. He clothed us in our shame and nakedness and reunited Adam and Eve in love (Genesis 3). He didn’t destroy us, he placed enmity between us and Satan, the deceiver, and he invoked his great plan of salvation for all mankind (Genesis 3:15).
As history unfolded as written in the Old Testament, we repeatedly rejected God but he always responded in love. Proving time after time his longsuffering patience toward his wayward children.
Then for generation after generation, we rejected his love until his temple stood empty, the Old Testament prophets became silent, and it looked like God had finally withdrawn his love from us once and for all.
But God is love.
When all appeared to be lost for God’s rebellious people, little did we know at the beginning of the New Testament, that God was about to pour upon us a gift of love that transcended anything we could imagine.
Our rebellious nature separates us from God because, in his righteousness, God cannot tolerate sin. So how was God to solve the problem of our inability to obey his law and live in righteousness? I suppose he could have reacted in anger and forced us into compliance by showing his might and power through lightning bolts and great signs from the heavens. But the end result would have been a miserable, cowering mass of humanity – terrified of their God!
The fact that God didn’t do that demonstrates his desire to have a relationship with each one of us without compromising our free will as individuals. Instead, in his boundless love, he devised a way to reconcile each one of us with him through Jesus Christ. This reconciliation is available to you and me as individuals, not as members of a people, or the world.
God really does love me!
He sent his son Jesus, whom he loved (John 3:35), to take upon himself the penalty that must be paid for our sinful rebellion. This allows us to approach God, acknowledging with him that our debt is paid once and for all through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:24-26), and claiming our right to a new, fully-reconciled fellowship with our loving God.
Praise the Lord!
This is what John 3:16 is all about. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
So God has made it known, very clearly, that he loves us. He loves you, and he loves me, as individuals. We each have an individual right to claim our salvation and reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ. This in turn allows us to live our lives in fellowship with God and according to his will.
That’s great news indeed, but as I mentioned at the start of this article, there are still those days when God’s love seems remote in a world of pain and suffering. What’s going on?
Notwithstanding our personal relationship with God, we live in a fallen, broken world. A world that remains in control of Satan the deceiver (1 John 5:19). That same deceiver from the Garden of Eden who brought us down from the very beginning! It follows that in such a world there will be pain and suffering.
As Christians we’re not of this world (John 15:19; 17:16) even though we must live and participate in it until we take our place with God in Heaven.
But God loves us! He has sent to us a comforter, or helper, in the person of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). As we make our journey through life in this fallen world, we can rely on the Holy Spirit for teaching and guidance (John 14:26). If we commune with God in prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6) we can put aside our anxiety in full knowledge that, when it comes to you and me, God’s love is without limit. We’re in the world but not of the world (John 15:19; 17:16) and God is with us.
And we’re with each other! We share his outpouring of love, working together to further the Kingdom of God in this world. We strengthen each other through worship and fellowship as members of the body of Christ in his Church.
So does God really love me?
God has demonstrated time after time throughout the ages that he loves me. In my daily walk with him he provides loving guidance and inspiration to get me through the troubles of this world.
And through Jesus Christ, God has given me an eternal life. An eternal life in the presence of eternal love.
He really does love me.
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