God desires to have a relationship with you! Have you discovered this? Have you allowed Him to come into your life, walking with you through the struggles and successes you experience? He loves you, and he has gone to extraordinary lengths to let you know it!
In fact, as we search through the Bible to discover just who this God is, we find that His love is one of His defining characteristics. It is evident throughout His story. Most of us have seen people sitting in the stands of a sporting event, holding up a sign with the words John 3:16. Have you ever wondered why they chose that verse? Why that message? Simply put, it is because that verse encapsulates one of the central themes of God’s story. That verse tells us that God loved us so much that He gave His Son so that we could be reconciled to him.
In 1 John, we find this amazing truth: “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (4:16). What an amazing statement! Notice that we are not told that God is loving, but that He is love. It is not enough to say that love is a characteristic describing God; rather, we must say that He Himself is the very essence of love and those of us who abide in Him abide in love. Later on in the same passage, we are told that it is God‘s love for us that allows us to love in the first place: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Without God’s love, His story and our lives would not be the same!
Some have claimed that God is not loving at all, citing what they perceive as a sort of schizophrenia in His character between the Old and New Testaments. They would claim that He was angry in the Old Testament, but must have mellowed out a bit before the New Testament. Is that the case? Let’s take a look at it.
In Exodus 34, God declares that He is abounding in steadfast love. The word we translate as steadfast love is rich in meaning, indicating God’s unfathomable goodness and kindness, and it is used to describe God repeatedly in the Old Testament. He demonstrates His steadfast love in His actions toward His people. The psalmist gives us a record of His steadfast love in Psalm 136, using the word no less than 26 times in 26 verses! The prophets often depict God as a spurned suitor, a faithful husband whose wife seeks a thrill in the arms of other lovers. In Hosea, God used the adultery of the prophet’s wife to show Himself as a husband who will not be denied, seeking to restore His beloved despite adultery and even prostitution. In Ezekiel, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah are portrayed as two sisters who have left their husband in order to give themselves to any who would have them. Despite His understandable anger, God still declares that He will restore His people, giving them the ability to love Him again and to follow Him wholeheartedly (Ezekiel 36). Clearly, the picture that we get of God in the Old Testament is that of a lover who will go to any length to save the relationship with His beloved.
God’s loving heart is on display throughout the Bible. He loves us passionately, constantly pursuing relationship with us. He loves us unceasingly, despite our faithlessness and sin. He loves us unhesitatingly, offering His Son’s life to make the way for our restored relationship. He loves us to the end, walking through this life with us in both our joys and our sorrows.
Who exactly is this God? He is the God who loves. He loves us. He loves you. Have you started a relationship with Him? As always, questions and comments are welcome via Facebook or private message!