The Experience of God

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love…”
(I John 4:16)

This verse emphatically states what God “is.”  There are many verses of scripture we could debate over meaning, but “God is love” is really undebateable.  One may ask, “What is God like” and the response can easily be made that God is love.  Hence, when we experience god we are experiencing love.  This verse states that, “we have known and believed the love that God has for us.”  This means that God is both knowable and can be experienced.  The word “know” in this verse, in Greek, is better translated as “to know by experience.”  The Amplified Bible translates this verse, “And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us.  God is love…”  The theological implication here is truly amazing!  What it is really saying is that God can be experienced and this experience is of a loving nature.  As a direct result of this experience, we can now, put our faith and trust in the revealed character of this God.  Once He has revealed His Nature to us, the natural bi-product of this exchange leads humanity into faith.

The next logical question one may ask is, “what is love?”  Society or psychiatry or psychology may offer a large range definitions but it seems best to define the Bible by the Bible itself.  Therefore, in defining biblically what love is, this definition will reveal the nature of God.  Ultimately, it will reveal His Character and Actions toward humanity.

The classic verse on love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8.  They read, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, Love never fails…” If one can take the word “love” out and put “God” in its place within this verse, then the character of God will be revealed.  Let’s examine a few passages.

The first verse states that, “love suffers long”; consequently, God suffers long as well.  It means that God endures evil without complaint.  This is an amazing expression of God’s love toward humanity when one considers that His Son died for all of us.  Let’s put this into perspective.  Imagine the one person you love the most in all the world (For God this was Jesus).  Now, imagine that this one person sacrifices their life for an unknown individual.  Later on, at a memorial service, you see the person and ask them, “Wasn’t that an amazing heroic thing that my loved one did for you?”  Imagine if that person looks at you and says, “Whatever!” and turns and walks out without even the hint of appreciation.  This would certainly provoke many fathers, sons, daughters, wives, and grandparents to wrath.  This is what happens to God the Father everyday and yet, he endures this evil without complaint.  The very fact that He has not completely destroyed all of us is an illustration that His love endures evil and is long-suffering.  Jonathan Edwards said it best, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God!” and He would certainly be justified in His wrath.  However, God doesn’t destroy all of humanity because His love for us suffers long.  The Bible states, “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the un-just.” (Matthew 5:45)

God is kind.  The meaning of this word is “goodness in action.”  The implication is wonderful.  God, who loves us so much, puts His Goodness into motion to set up circumstances so that we obtain favor.  Once His plans come to pass in our lives, it looks outwardly that we have been very successful.  The reality is that God really set it all up.  Then, He in His Love, let’s us get the credit for it.  This is evident in the life of David.  The Lord strikes down Goliath (I Samuel 17:47) and David got the credit (I Samuel 17:50)  God is not interested in promoting Himself (another characteristic of love), He is interested in watching us be successful.  He enjoys watching blessings come into your life.  The Bible says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) God takes pleasure in blessing all of humanity.  It works like this:  Have you ever received an unexpected gift that you really wanted  but didn’t expect?  Have you ever given someone a gift that you knew they wanted but didn’t expect?  Remember the emotions that you felt in both giving and receiving, and if, we could take these emotions out and give them life, power, mind, purpose, and authority, that would be God.  That is what the experience of God is like, it is just to good to be true.  These emotions are the most pure and powerful in humanity.  It is a direct reflection of the Divine Heart.  God is the embodiment of love in all of love’s splendor, radiance, and glory!

Love hopes all things.  Therefore, God hopes all things.  The biblical definition of hope is the “joyful expectation of good.”  When God looks at us, He doesn’t see us as we see ourselves.  He doesn’t view our future with all of our habits, sins, and faults.  He sees us as the finished product.  When I look at a large stone, all I see is a large stone.  However, if a sculptor looks at a large stone, he sees art.  He sees something that can be beautiful, have purpose, and impact future generations.  This is the way that God sees us.  He looks at you with the joyful expectation that he can sanctify you and mold you into a thing of beauty.  A human crafted into the image of His Son with purpose, power, and a destiny that will have an impact for His Kingdom and for future generations.