Read Isaiah 49:14-16
14 Yet Jerusalem says,”The LORD has deserted us;
the Lord has forgotten us.”
15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!
16 See,I have written your name on the palms of my hands. (NLT)
We presumably believe God loves us. It is a basic doctrine,well expressed in Scripture,highlighted in songs and in sermons. We rightly believe that this love is supremely expressed in Jesus and his atoning death on our behalf.
But we dare not reduce such love to a mere propositional statement. We dare not confine love to a self-sacrificing gesture on the part of God. His love for us embraces tenderness,even fondness. If we want to check our grasp of the love God has for us,we need to ask ourselves not just if God loves us,but if he likes us.
Immediately we protest that he doesn’t like all we do: that is obvious and proper. But we still need to press on and get it into our heads that he actually likes us. Not just tolerates us or accepts us because it is in his nature. He is fond of us,as the imagery in our text illustrates.
Our God is no ‘po-faced’ deity whose love is an unsmiling abstraction. His love is tender and kind and compassionate. Just as a parent loves the child and even likes the child irrespective of conduct,so too does God love us. We are not recipients of grudgingly given acceptance. We are not beneficiaries of some automated divine response to lost humanity. We are loved,but we are also liked.