God likes me. And I like God.
This wasn’t always true for me. (Rather, I struggled to believe it was true.)
Sure, I knew from the Bible that God loved me, but somehow Him liking me felt a little farther fetched. Mostly because I was an expert in coming up with reasons He would probably STOP liking me: struggles with sin, idols, failure to stay connected to Him, etc.
Why does it make a difference that God not only loves us but likes us?
I think one reason is because of how we understand relationships. We spend time with people we enjoy being around. We pursue friendship with people we like, who encourage us, who are there for us, who make us laugh, who make us better, who we like talking to. Friendship is also messy sometimes. We make mistakes, we ask for forgiveness, we hurt each other, we grow together. We are sometimes rejected or let down or gossiped about or discouraged. This is our framework for relationship, so it is challenging not to fit God into that same frame, especially since the Bible also tells us God desires friendship with us (1 Corinthians 1:9). When He created the human race, it pleased Him, and He called it good (Genesis 1:31).
We receive his communications and, by the Spirit, are made alive to them. We see them coming—his communications of himself, his character, and his work on our behalf—and we are awakened to them. We are made to admire them, to delight in them, and to be happy, hopeful, and encouraged. Then we return to him—likewise through the word, by the Spirit, and through the name of Jesus Christ—prayers, acts of gratitude, resolutions to fight the fight of faith, and acts of obedience. The result is that our lives are going Godward while his life toward us is coming manward. That’s the relationship. John Piper
I think another reason is because God is invisible, high and lifted up and also closer than our next breath. The God we read about and study is holy, meaning no aspect of His nature contradicts the other. He is perfectly loving and merciful while also being perfectly just and sovereign (1 John 4:10, John 3:16, Romans 5:1). He requires righteousness from us yet offers it as a gift through Jesus.
We can grasp that He loves us because of the great lengths He has gone to rescue us from sin and death – His Son lived perfectly, died bearing the weight of every sin and conquered every darkness when He rose to life. We can grasp (even lightly) the incredible forgiveness offered, the amazing grace given and the eternal life purchased (1 Peter 3:18, John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:22). He is God and this was His plan from the beginning (Ephesians 1:4-5).
He is an incredible, unreal, powerful God, YET He is also a highly personal, attentive, conversational Father. We continually struggle with sin, but His Spirit is sanctifying us, calling us up and into Christlikeness, the person He created us to be (Romans 8:8-10, Romans 5:5). And that delights Him!
Think about your best friend or your spouse or a close family member. Think about how spending time with them makes you feel. Think about how much joy it gives you to know them. Think about how you pursue them with questions and conversations. Think about how they care for you and you for them. Think about how it feels when they surprise you or take care of you when you’re sick or hurt. Think about how they make you laugh or how you know their favorite food or movie.
These are all things that make up a good relationship, right?
So. it. is. with. God.
And since He knows everything about you, past, present and future, and is invested in making you more like Jesus, it’s even more personal and sweet and intimate than your favorite friendship on this earth.
I don’t remind you of this to make you feel good (although it probably does). I remind you of this to take steps to know Him because He can be known. Make space in your day to worship Him because He is to be worshipped and it will change you. Talk to Him about the little things and the big things because He can be conversed with. Be quiet and listen to Him because He wants to talk to you. Treat Him like your favorite person because He is always the best choice. Share with Him your disappointments and frustrations because He is the one who can do something better with them. Invite Him into your chores and projects because He is the wisest, most creative and joyful helper. Obey Him with your choices because He makes it possible with the help of His Spirit.
“His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” Psalm 147:10-11
Tremble at what grieves God. Believe in His love. Enjoy Him. Because you can! Because He made it possible. And because He delights in who you are in Him and who He is making you to be.