These last few years have been some of the most remarkable in my lifetime. I would guess the same has been true for you.
In 2008, I felt compelled to write a book about world events and what the Bible had to say about them. As I was completing that book, a worldwide economic crisis suddenly arrived. I knew the timing was providential.
Over the ensuing months, as current events continued to take new twists, I felt the need to respond with works that offered guidance through the most confusing, perplexing events of our generation. This meant writing about the world and the shape it was in, so I wrote about distressing events in government, distressing events in our culture, and distressing events on the world stage. I felt humbled that God would use me during such times as I worked hard to obey Paul’s admonition to “preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
As I finished those projects and stepped back from the chaos, I was reminded of a truth that seemed to have been marginalized during the confusing days I have just described: God is love. I stopped and thanked God that, with everything we were living through and all the cautions and admonitions I was responsible to deliver, we still served such a wonderful, loving God; that no matter how much despair burdens humanity, our God still loves us and counts us as His precious children—and nothing can change that.
And I thought, Does everyone realize this? That God is still love? Has anyone told them lately?
I did some checking on what kinds of books were being published, particularly books about God. And I was surprised that the simple message of God’s love was being largely ignored. I knew what God wanted me to do. He wanted me to tell people, in the midst of such dark times, that God loves them; that He always has loved them; and that He always will love them. The title came together in my mind—something that doesn’t always happen up front in the writing process: God Loves You: He Always Has—He Always Will.
I knew those were the right words. People needed fresh assurance of those truths. So I went to the Word of God one more time on this topic, looking at the love story that flows through the thousands of years of history that make up our Bible. I studied the love that God has for His children, following the rich pageant of His pursuit from Old to New Testaments, and time after time I was moved to tears by the majesty, the grace, the staggering insistence of His abiding affection for every citizen on Planet Earth.
Not only did all people in general need this message; I needed it.
As I studied to produce these chapters, I was reminded of what I’ve always known, but needed to be reminded of again: love isn’t simply a Christian message—it’s the Christian message. The Gospel—the “good news”—is that regardless of our human failings, God loves us.
There are plenty of details to teach about and preach about and write about and talk about, and each is important in its own way. But this is our headline news. This is what the world desperately needs to know, and we are responsible to tell them.
However, I also need to point out that, even if this is the greatest and most exciting news about God—it’s not the only news about God. In this book, I’ve kept to the subject of God’s love because there’s plenty to say about the topic. But I want to be certain no one draws the conclusion that since God is love, this somehow rules out His other attributes, attributes that all orthodox Christians have recognized from the beginning. God’s love cannot be allowed to obscure His holiness and His justice.
A popular song from several decades ago declared, “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” And I have to agree—as long as the love the world is given is the true love of God. I don’t know of anything the world needs now, or at any other time, more than the love of God. Only the love of God can remove the barrier of sin that separates mankind from God—“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). And only the love of God gives us hope in the face of disappointment and despair—“[Nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39).
God desires to give you the gift of His love. But a gift must be received. If someone gives you a Christmas gift, and you leave it under the tree and never unwrap it, you haven’t really received it.
My point is that the giving of a gift is one half of a transaction. The transaction doesn’t become real and doesn’t take effect until that gift is accepted, opened, identified, and appreciated. In the same way, it’s not enough that God simply offers His love. He expects us to receive it.
David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has--He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).