I have some good news for you: God likes you!
Believers believe that God loves them. That is a major, crucial aspect of the Good News. God loves people. He loves you. He loves me. But, if you are at all like me, you sometimes find yourself asking yourself: does God like me? Does God enjoy being with me?
I have been reading Syd and Geoff Holsclaw’s book Does God Really Like Me? It is an excellent book so far. Their central premise is that “everything changes when we believe God is glad to be with us. It changes how we experience God’s presence. It changes how we live (Holsclaw, 3).”
Wait a minute though. I’ve heard enough Jonathan Edwards sermons (OK, just the famous one) to know that I’m a worm, I’m nothing, I’m fortunate that God hasn’t cast me into the abyss. I’ve heard enough times that God loves me despite me being, well, me. I’m a sinner, and God can’t stand sin. Therefore, God can’t stand me. He loves me despite myself.
God Likes Us and Wants to Be with Us
But I’ve come to believe that this view is nonsense. I’m not sure if I acquired it through various teachings I’ve heard or read or if it’s just my neurosis shining through. But I have to believe that God likes me. It doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t like me.
Psalm 149:4-5 states, “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds (NIV).” God takes pleasure in his people and is glad to be with them. Consequently, we rejoice because we are with a God who is glad to be with us. Joy, which in our brain is the feeling of being with someone who wants to be with us, is possible because God is with us.
God, in fact, goes to great trouble to be with us. Even though we have rebelled against him, he pursues us. When Jesus was born, what was he called? “Immanuel.” God with us. It pleased God to become human in order to be with us and so that we could be with him. God wants to be with us. God likes us.
Well, So What?
This is actually a big deal. If my view of God is that he merely tolerates me, that has a deep impact on my prayer life. I don’t approach a father who loves me, I approach a king who puts up with me. How much more willing am I to ask for help from someone who likes me than from someone who doesn’t? When I believe and trust that God wants me to be with him, my prayers are more confident, more honest, humbler. I don’t need to prove my worthiness to receive God’s help; he helps me because he wants to help me. I am secure in his presence and can approach him knowing that he wants me to approach him and seek his help.
Believing God likes me makes a big difference in confession of sin as well. When I don’t believe that God likes me and instead believe his constantly angry with me, confession becomes self-flagellation. I beat myself up, I call myself worthless and deplorable. That way, in my mind, God might see that I see myself as he sees me.
Except that’s not how God sees me. He sees me as his beloved child. When I trust that God likes me and wants to be with me, confession becomes comfort. I can find comfort in God’s forgiveness and God’s desire to help me. It’s not lying prostrate before a tyrant. It’s laying your head on your Father’s lap and letting him wipe away your tears.
There’s a great episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry finds himself dating someone exactly like him. Same mannerisms, same quirks, same sense of humor. After a while Jerry begins to sense that there is something wrong with the relationship, and later he figures it out: “All of a sudden, it hit me, I realized what the problem is: I can’t be with someone like me. I hate myself! If anything, I need to get the exact opposite of me.”
I think most people are like Jerry: we don’t really like ourselves. We have trouble relating to people who reflect back to us our perceived faults and flaws. Often, we find ourselves cringing at our behavior. Many of us really don’t like ourselves. I don’t particularly like myself. There are a lot of things that I don’t like about myself.
But it’s awfully hard for me to believe that God likes me if I don’t like myself. If I can’t even like me, how could God possibly like me? Not liking myself prevents me from believing that God likes me and wants to be with me.
We need to learn to see ourselves not with our own eyes, but with God’s. If you believe that
- God created us in his image and likeness,
- He loves us,
- And became human to be with us;
- That Jesus died to provide forgiveness and salvation for us,
- Jesus promised to be with us always,
- Jesus is coming back to perfect the world and us,
then you have to believe that God likes you and delights in you. And if God likes you, how can you not like yourself? We need to learn to like what God likes…and God likes us.
But I’m a Sinner and God Hates Sin!
True. God does hate sin. He hates what it does to people. He hates that it separates us from him. But the Good News that once I trusted Jesus, I was united with him by faith, and once united with Jesus, God’s delight in Jesus becomes his delight for me. Sin no longer defines us, Jesus defines us. We are restored to a right and whole relationship with God where we can know his delight in us. We can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that through faith in Jesus, we can experience God not as an angry judge, but a loving father who is absolutely crazy about us.
Yes, we continue to sin. No, God does not like our sin. God doesn’t like all of our choices. There are a lot of people I like very much that make choices that I don’t like. I am constantly reassuring my children that I love them and like them even when they make poor choices. Just because they did something I don’t approve of doesn’t mean I don’t like them and want to have a close connection with them anymore. God may not approve of all of our choices but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be with us. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t like us. God is still glad to be with us.
God Likes You
When God sees you, he smiles. When God is with you, he delights in you. God has gone to a lot of trouble to create us and then redeem us—why would he do that if he didn’t want to be with us? God likes you and wants to be with you.
Hey everyone, thanks for reading. I hope you found this helpful and encouraging. If you could share it with someone, that would mean the world to me.
You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @revsteve83