God’s love for you isn’t merely intellectual. God loves you with deep affection.
See the passion and emotion in Paul’s words to the Philippians: “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…” (Philippians 1:8–9, ESV).
When Paul thought of the Philippian Christians, he felt Christ’s own affection for them. The Greek word conveys the depths of one’s inner being. He loved them literally “in the entrails of Christ.”
The notion that God has affection for you is momentous at many levels but, perhaps, mostly in this:
To say God has affection for you is not only to say that your heart is warmed by being with God but it is also to say that God’s heart is warmed by being with you.
It means that God has joy in being near you, holding you, touching you. Of course, we are speaking of mysteries of the Spirit, but it is not altogether unlike the joy you might get from petting a soft dog or holding a tender baby. It’s the nature of affection – giving affection brings delight to the giver.
Paul’s prayer that the Philippians’ “love may abound more and more” is linked to the twin goals of “knowledge and discernment.” Love is rooted in more than feeling—it’s rooted in revelation. The love of God is something that you come to believe and feel.
The preacher of my youth often said, “We don’t go on feelings but it sure is good to feel what you’re going on.”
God loves you affectionately. He loves being with you. He delights in you. God feels His love for you in the deepest essence of His being. It means that all His interactions with you are shaped by His depth of affection for you. Such knowledge changes you. And that’s the Gospel!