Lover of Our Souls
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I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.—Hosea 2:19–201
The Bible is full of the expression of God’s relational heart toward us—as a Father, a husband, a friend—and it carries through from Genesis to Revelation. When in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve turn their backs on God and rebel against Him, we see immediately the tone is set for the rest of the ages, as God’s response is not ‘What have you done?’ but ‘Where are you?’2 And the whole of the rest of the story is God winning us back, paying the price Himself, making a way for us to be with Him. It is a great love story, an epic adventure of lover pursuing His bride, God Himself wooing and pursuing mankind. It is a breathtaking reality that we are inundated with, in the Word of God, by His call for us to live in relationship with Him.—Andy Bannister and Tanya Walker3
How do you know God loves you? He gives you many evidences: God says he loves you; you’re never out of his sight; he cares about every detail of your life; he gave you the capacity to enjoy all kinds of pleasure; he has good plans for your life; he forgives you; and he is lovingly patient with you. God loves you infinitely more than you can imagine.
The greatest expression of this is the sacrifice of God’s Son for you. “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” If you want to know how much you matter to God, look at Christ with his arms outstretched on the cross, saying, “I love you this much! I’d rather die than live without you.”
God is not a cruel slave driver or a bully who uses brute force to coerce us into submission. He doesn’t try to break our will, but woos us to himself so that we might offer ourselves freely to him. God is a lover and a liberator, and surrendering to him brings freedom, not bondage. When we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus, we discover that he is not a tyrant, but a savior; not a boss, but a brother; not a dictator, but a friend.—Rick Warren4
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.—Romans 7:45
It should not be surprising that the Lord would call Himself our Lover, as in the Bible He calls the Church—us and all those who are joined to Him through salvation—His bride. And, of course, a bride and bridegroom—a husband and wife—should be lovers. He wants us to love Him with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength.—With everything there is within us. If we love Him this way, we won’t just think of Him as a friend, but He’ll be our lover as well. He wants us to crave Him, His Word, His voice, His love. He wants us to feel a burning desire for Him, a desperate need to be with Him and to communicate with Him.—Maria Fontaine
For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called.—Isaiah 54:56
God has raised up His church, a bride, bursting with energy and a passionate love for her Bridegroom—an alive, vibrant, warm, living, beautiful body that responds quickly, fervently, and ardently to His slightest call and who is ravished with His love! She is strong to conceive many children unto Him from being filled with the seed of His Word.—David Brandt Berg
Jesus reveals a God who is love. On our own, would any of us come up with the notion of a God who loves and yearns to be loved? Those raised in a Christian tradition may miss the shock of Jesus’ message, but in truth love has never been a normal way of describing what happens between human beings and their God. … Aristotle stated bluntly, “It would be eccentric for anyone to claim that he loved Zeus”—or that Zeus loved a human being, for that matter. In dazzling contrast, the Christian Bible affirms, “God is love,” and cites love as the main reason Jesus came to earth: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” As Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “The bird on the branch, the lily in the meadow, the stag in the forest, the fish in the sea, and countless joyful people sing: God is love! But under all these sopranos, as if it were a sustained bass part, sounds the de profundis of the sacrificed: God is love.” Jesus’ own stories about God’s love express a quality almost of desperation. In Luke 15 he tells of a woman who searches all night until she finds a valuable coin and of a shepherd who hunts in the darkness until he finds the one sheep who has wandered astray. Each parable concludes with a scene of rejoicing, a celestial party that erupts over the news of another sinner welcomed home.
In a nutshell, the Bible from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 tells the story of a God reckless with desire to get his family back. God struck the decisive blow of reconciliation when he sent the Son on the long journey to planet earth. The Bible’s last scene, like the parable of the lost son, ends in jubilation, the family united once again. Elsewhere, the Gospels comment on the extent to which God went to accomplish that rescue plan of love. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son... Jesus embodies the promise of a God who will go to any length to win us back. Not the least of Jesus’ accomplishments is that he made us somehow lovable to God.—Philip Yancey7
The greatest good on this earth is God. Period. God’s one goal for us is Himself.
The Good News—the best news in the world, in fact—is that you can have God Himself. Do you believe that God is the greatest thing that you can experience in the whole world? … The best things in life are gifts from the One who steadfastly loves us. But an important question to ask ourselves is this: Are we in love with God or just His stuff? Imagine how awful it would feel to have your child say to you, “I don’t really love you or want your love, but I would like my allowance, please.” Conversely, what a beautiful gift it is to have the one you love look you in the eye and say, “I love you. Not your beauty, your money, your family, or your car. Just you.”
Our love for Him always comes out of His love for us. Do you love this God who is everything, or do you just love everything He gives you? Do you really know and believe that God loves you individually and personally and intimately? Do you see and know Him as Abba, Father?—Francis Chan8
Published on Anchor August 2014. Read by Carol Andrews.
Music by Michael Dooley.
2 Genesis 3:9.
3 Islam in Context (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2003).
4 The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 78–79.
7 The Jesus I Never Knew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 267–268.
8 Crazy Love (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013), 64.