Love is only experienced where it is reciprocated.
‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’ (John 14:21)
Experiencing God’s love in Scripture is not unconditional. The fact that ‘God is love’ means His very nature is love and therefore true at all times, in all situations, as part of His immutable nature. But our experience of His love is conditional. In His discourse with His disciples the night before His arrest, Jesus said that those who obey Him, love Him, and those who love Him will be loved by the Father, and in turn by Jesus Himself (John 14:21).
God said of the nation of Israel in the days of Hosea, ‘I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious’ (Hosea 9:15). Behind this lies Hosea’s own domestic situation, where his wife Gomer becomes an adulteress and eventually a prostitute. Their relationship is broken, ‘she is not my wife and I am not her husband’ (Hosea 2:2). The parallel to this is the nation of Israel, who are no longer in a love relationship with God. But then Hosea does a remarkable thing. He goes and purchases his wife from her pimp, paying half price for her full redemption, and takes her home again. But there are conditions, ‘You must not … be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you’ (Hosea 3:3). She is back home on terms of love and trust. Christ died to purchase us, and bring us back into a relationship of love.
Is your experience of God’s love deepening as you live in obedience to Him?
Bible in one year: Matthew 10 | Genesis 11