– By David McLEmore –
“The Father himself loves you” (John 16:27).
It’s too easy for us to misunderstand the heart of God. From the beginning, the enemy has come with his damning question, “Did God really say…?” Since Adam and Eve answered, “No,” it’s been a disaster for the rest of us. When God comes, telling of his great love, we think, “Eh, maybe. Did he really say that, though?”
After all, you might say, isn’t Jesus is saying to us even in John 16 that the Father loves us in a responsive way, like making the friend of your friend your friend? Keep reading. “The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I come from God.” There’s a reason for God’s love, and it’s not out of his own great heart. It’s a response to ours. He loves Jesus, and us by proxy.
But that’s nonsense. It cannot be that God loves because we first loved. The same apostle says the opposite in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” Saint Augustine comments: