God Loves Human Beings

God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, namely, real human beings, the real world, this is for God the ground of unfathomable love. God establishes a most intimate unity with this. God becomes human, a real human being. While we exert ourselves to grow beyond our humanity, to leave the human behind us, God becomes human; and we must recognize that God wills that we be human, real human beings. While we distinguish between pious and godless, good and evil, noble and base, God loves real people without distinction. God has no patience with our dividing the world and humanity according to our standards and imposing ourselves as judges over them. God leads us ad absurdum [into absurdity] by becoming a real human being and a companion of sinners, thereby forcing us to become the judges of God. God stands beside the real human being and the real world against all their accusers. So God becomes accused along with human beings and the world, and thus the judges becomes the accused.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics

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7 thoughts on “God Loves Human Beings”

  1. Great wisdom from a great man!

    Here is another.

    “A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one
    thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose
    greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of

    Abraham J. Heschel

  2. I love this. I once asked a friend who is a biblical scholar if "the world" referred to negatively in the book of James is the same "world" that is the object of God's love in John 3:16 -- It is.

  3. Actually, I would say, probably not. James negatively references the world many times, one of the strongest being Jas. 4:4, where it says that anyone who wants to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. I would say that world in James is closer in meaning to what it is in 1 John, where it represents all that opposes God and goodness: 1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[d] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever." Why would God so love the world, and tell his church not to love the world? It makes no sense. The World that God loves in John 3:16 is a fallen world, and he loves the world in its fallenness, but does not love it's fallenness. That would be bad news, because then God would not have a plan to redeem the world from evil and decay. James and 1 John clearly refer to the sinful aspects of the world that we can be entangled in. John 3 clearly refers to the world/people that God desires to redeem. They are very different uses of the term "world." I would have to think quite a bit harder to see if I agree completely with Bonhoeffer. I think I'd at least say that God loves in order to redeem, not to leave the objects of his love as they are. (Eph. 2:10) We are clearly called on to distinguish between walking according to the sinful nature vs. the Spirit (Gal. 5), between faithfulness and faithlessness, between the church/body of Christ and the world, and even between the saved and the lost. But God is the one who sets those parameters and who does the saving. We simply preach Jesus as the risen savior and confess our faith in him.

  4. Dan, you said that you thought "that God loves in order to redeem, not to leave the objects of his love as they are." I wonder if in fact God redeems because he loves. In other words, his love precedes his redemptive desire, not vice versa. What do you think?

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