How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.…
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
—1 John 3:1–3, 16–20
Words are inadequate to express the depths of God’s love for us: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” If ever an exclamation point was deserved in a translation, surely it’s here!
The apostle John says we know what God’s love is because of the unthinkable price Jesus paid for us, to turn us into God’s own children, fully acceptable in his sight. God’s love abounds. It proliferates. It’s overflowing, even excessive—something all sufferers need to hear. But God does not always love us on our preferred terms. C. S. Lewis wrote:
We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven…whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.”… I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.”
Children who know their father as good and loving experience great security. And the Bible assures us that the God who spun galaxies into being “gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (Isaiah 40:11).
I heard a story of a kindhearted king who finds a blind, destitute orphan boy while hunting in a forest. He sees that the boy receives the finest of everything. The boy is extremely grateful, and he loves the king, his new father, with all his heart.
When the boy turns twenty, a surgeon performs an operation on his eyes, and for the first time he is able to see. This boy, once a starving orphan, has for some years been a royal prince, at home in the king’s palace. But something wonderful has happened, something far greater than the magnificent food, gardens, libraries, music, and wonders of the palace. The boy is finally able to see the face of the father he adores.
The king’s rescue of the destitute child is like our conversion. We initially come to know God’s love and enjoy his indwelling presence, but still we cannot fully see. The day is coming, however, when we will live in a glorious world where we will fully see and all will be beautiful beyond our imagination.
But all these magnificent wonders will be secondary, mere tributes to the King. For by far our greatest thrill will be when, with resurrected eyes, we see for the first time the face of the God who loved us so much as to pour out his life for us.
John Donne put it beautifully:
I shall rise from the dead.… I shall see the Son of God, the Sun of Glory, and shine myself as that sun shines. I shall be united to the Ancient of Days, to God Himself, who had no morning, never began.… No man ever saw God and lived. And yet, I shall not live till I see God; and when I have seen him, I shall never die.
Father, you are the King who found us wandering in our blindness and brought us into your palace. But you did more than that, for we were not just blind and lost, we were rebels at war against you. Yet in your grace, you gave your Son as a sacrifice to bring us into your family, that we might live with you in security and abundance. How great is your love to have done this for us! And what an unspeakable wonder it will be to behold your face. May we live this day in anticipation of that day!
This blog was excerpted from my book 90 Days of God's Goodness.
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.