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  • Lindsay Esterline

God Doesn't Just Love You, He Likes You

We have all heard that “God is love” and that “God so loved the world…” (John 4:16; John 3:16). We have also heard that we are God’s children (Galatians 3:26). 

I can visualize you shaking your head and saying, “yeah, yeah, yeah…” 

Somehow, I think that many Christians have gotten the idea that because of Jesus God has to love you. But that can’t be further from the truth! John 16:27 says, “for the Father himself loves you dearly” (NLT). Jesus said, “the Father HIMSELF” to emphasize that Jesus didn’t come to run interference between us and an angry God. He came as part of the plan developed by a loving God:

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT).

God is inherently relational. He is three in one after all (1 John 5:7; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Matthew 28:19). This God - Father, Son, Holy Spirit - who has been in an eternal (Isaiah 40:28), loving relationship decided to create man (Genesis 1:26) in order to add to the family (1 John 3:1). Much like many human parents have children out of love for each other, and to add to the love they experience in their relationship, God created us. 

Young boy laughing while seated on a bench with a Bible

Not only does God love you, but he also likes you! You bring him joy!

Maybe some of the “God loves me, but doesn’t like me” vibes come from our experience with our flawed earthly parents. We feel they provide for us because they have to, but they don’t enjoy being around us much. Or maybe you feel like the Bible is full of stuff that our heavenly Father is obligated to say in the same way we tell our moms, “you have to say that because you’re my mom!” It all implies that the loving care, and true sentiments of kindness and joy are not genuine. I’m here to tell you they are! Not everyone has loving and genuine parents, but we all have a loving and genuine Heavenly Father.

You Make God Sing

Have you ever been so happy that you had to sing? If you are not a singer, maybe you have been so overjoyed that you needed to hear, or dare I say dance to, your favorite song. 

Zephaniah 3:17 reads, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” 

Do you see a picture of God singing over you? Do you see a connection between his power to save, and the peace you can experience because of his love that compels him to save you? Do you see the joy you bring when you accept that gift?

God wants a relationship with you because he likes you. Consider the following verses:

Psalm 147:11

the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm 18:19

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Let me put it this way, God has sent you a friend request via Jesus Christ.

Friends in a side-hug

When you accept his friend request he gets excited! Can you relate? Has a social media notification on your phone ever brought you joy? Well, Luke 15:10 tells us, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

When you accepted God’s friend request there was a party in heaven!

God Wants To Hangout With You

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20 NLT).

Jesus wants to be your friend. We choose our friends because we like them. We enjoy being around our friends. There is no obligation to be a friend the way we sometimes feel obligated to family. God wants to have a relationship with you. God has chosen you to be his friend! 

We share ourselves with our friends. We share our likes and dislikes, our dreams and plans. God wants to hear all about you (even though he knows you better than you know yourself). And God wants to share himself with you (Jeremiah 9:23-24; Hosea 6:3, 6).

John 15:15 says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” God has shared his plans for the world he created and redeemed in scripture. Since we are his friends, he wants us to be a part of those plans.

“'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. '” Jeremiah 29:11.

In Luke 11, right after the Lord's Prayer, there is a story often dubbed ‘The Persistent Neighbor’. 

But this story, and the verses that follow, are not about our persistence. Jesus was comparing our best relationships to a relationship with a loving Heavenly Father. We can trust that God is better at relationships than fallen humans. God is a better friend or neighbor. God is a better Father. God is the best. There is no need to keep him at an arms length. 

It's hard to believe that someone as awesome as God would want to be our friend. After all, the Bible does say we are unworthy (Luke 17:10; Romans 3:23-24). Maybe that's what makes it so hard to believe. 

How can we be so unworthy and yet so desired?

God has made us worthy, through Jesus, because he desires to be with you. The King of the Universe died on a cross so he could hang out with you!

Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” [emphasis supplied].

Jesus knew that the result of his sacrifice, the temporary pain, would be an eternity with you and that brought him joy! He was equal with God (Philippians 2:6). He was already “seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” He didn’t earn that spot through the cross. He was already God, but he set that aside in order to redeem us!

It's like God thought, “My universe would be missing something without [your name] in it! So, we need to fix that.” Why does he love us so much? The Bible says it's just who God is (1 John 4:16).

God smiles at us. 

In Numbers 6:24-26 we find “The Priestly Blessing.” Here God is telling Aaron, and the priesthood, how to bless the Isrealites. These are God’s words.

“The Lord bless you

    and keep you;

 the Lord make his face shine on you

    and be gracious to you;

 the Lord turn his face toward you

    and give you peace.”

When we think of God we think of glory and light. Glory and light “shine,” so if you are like me, you likely never gave the phrase “make his face shine on you” much thought. “Great, God looks over us”, right? But, there is more here than a glance and its resulting luminescence.*

 If a parent disapproves of a child’s actions it can be reflected in the parent’s expression; their face is dark. In Middle Eastern culture, it can go as far as avoiding eye contact. A parent might avoid looking at the child to show their disapproval. The opposite is true when a parent approves of the child’s actions.

When a parent is proud, or approving, their face will “light up”, as Americans would say. The love and joy a parent finds in their child will “shine through” their expression - often a smile. So, in a way, God is telling us that not only does he look upon us, but that he smiles over us in loving approval! Doesn’t that make you smile in return? When we feel God’s face shine on us, we can’t help but reflect that back to him and to others!

How is it possible that we, sinners, can make God proud? The short answer is that if we have accepted the gift of salvation through Jesus, we are covered by Christ. God then looks upon us as he does his Son “with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Can you believe that we have such an effect on God?

He loves us. He likes us. He wants to be with us. He finds joy in us. We make him smile. We refresh his soul!

In the story of the Samaritan Woman at the well in John 4, Jesus is waiting by the well for his disciples to return with food. While they are gone Jesus starts a conversation with an outcast Samaritan woman. As the disciples return this woman runs off to tell others about the Messiah. When the disciples urge Jesus to eat he says, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (John 4:32). Her faith and enthusiasm had refreshed or satisfied his soul!

God couldn’t make it more clear that he wants a relationship with you. 

So the question is, do you want to accept God’s friend request?

God wants you to find satisfaction in him. Find joy, love, and belonging in him!

“The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain (with God) and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.” - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, August 4

Have you decided to give your heart to Jesus, and accept his friendship? If so, let us know in the comments, or send us an email, so that we can pray for you. 

Silhouette of a girl with her arms open toward the sky

*Special thanks to Dr. Philip Samaan for his insight. You can listen to more from Dr. Samaan in our podcast episode “Cultural Context” found here.

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