As mentioned in a previous blog, when Jesus called God Father, he was always referring both to God’s authority and to God’s commitment to our good. Although the biblical writers had, and used, words for “love” that are primarily emotional, the word usually used to describe God’s love for us and the love we are commanded to have for one another is not primarily about “good feelings.” In fact, you cannot command good feelings. What God is committed to, and we are commanded to learn to image, is a stubborn commitment to wanting, and acting toward, the best for the other person (agape/chesed).
It is not because God must, or because it is written in the stars, that God chooses to relate to us in this interpersonal manner. Rather, the God of the Old Testament (Elohim who is YHWH) chooses to create humans and to love humans because God desires to. This means God is more committed to good for us than God is committed to avoiding personal hurt and pain. Jesus’ relationship with God is so trusting and trustworthy that he embodies this commitment and demonstrates it at great personal cost. To put it in words Paul penned later that seem to describe his own experience with God’s Fatherly love coming to him through Jesus:
Romans 8:31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?
33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect people? It is God who acquits them. 34 Who is going to convict them? It is Jesus the Messiah who died, even more, who was raised, and who also is at God’s right side. It is Jesus the Messiah who also pleads our case for us. (CEB with change of Christ to “Messiah”)
What do you mean, what do I mean, when we say, “God is a loving Father?”