God's Model Love

John Telgren

I believe that the Bible is the greatest love story ever told. It's not a romance story, although it certainly has this. It is not love poetry, although there is love poetry in it. It is not about a parent's love and devotion for his child, although you do find that in the Bible too. It is not about one who is willing to give his life for his friends in battle, though you find that there too. The Bible is about God's love for us, and how God has expressed it from the beginning. His love is what prompted him to guide us, instruct us, lead us, and ultimately sacrifice for us.

The Bible uses several analogies in order to try and get us to see the enormous relentlessness of his love. Here are two of the images.

1. Marriage. One of the images of God's love is marriage. One representative passage refers to us as the bride of Christ (Eph 5:25-32). A "gave himself up" for us, his "bride" with sacrificial love. He "sanctified" us, which means he set us apart like a husband sets apart that special woman in his heart. He presents us to himself with "glory," which means his bride is beautiful to him. He also "nourishes and cherishes" his bride. This is why God can also get angry. When you love someone deeply and passionately, your anger can also be deep and passionate when you are spurned.

2. Parent. God says that he loved his people when they were a youth (Hos 11). But they turned away from God and kept doing evil, honoring pagan gods as their father rather than Yahweh. God is angry for their wickedness and is ready to destroy them, but he cannot. He says, "my heart is turned over within me." It sounds as though God is angry and heartbroken at the same time. Only a parent can understand this. God never completely disowns them. The door was always open for them to change their life and come home. Like the story of the Prodigal Son reminds us in Luke 15, God is overjoyed when his wayward child returns home, and his heart is twisted in knots until he does.

We have been tainted by sin, which affects our thoughts, will and emotions. But God's pure love is fiercely devoted, enduringly loyal, and beautifully pure. God is not cold or unemotional. Some have a problem with accepting that God has emotion. Yet, love is what kindles his compassion. His heart is turned over within him when we turn from him. He knows both the anger and heartbreak of loving someone who refuses to reciprocate your love and even goes so far as to mistreat you, your name, and act wickedly against you. God mourns, grieves, rejoices, and gets angry. God loves. In fact, scripture tells us "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8). We have been created in the image of God, which means that we, including our emotions, are a reflection of God. God instructs us to love because God is love (1 Jn 4:7). In other word's, God is the model for the way we are to love others. Whether it is loving our spouse, our children, or our friend, God, the source of love, is the model for how we are to love.