The Scriptures describe the characteristics that set apart God’s Church as unlike any other. Part of its uniqueness comes from the unconditional love of God present in its members: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×).
God’s love is like a mother’s love for her children, but God’s love goes much deeper. God’s true Church conducts herself as a caring mother toward her children.
Old Testament Israel was thought of as a mother and her citizens as her children. The Bible uses the term mother to illustrate the love of God for His sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×). “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you …” (Isaiah 66:13 Isaiah 66:13As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
American King James Version×). Describing the way he and other elders had served the Church, Paul wrote, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7 1 Thessalonians 2:7But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children:
American King James Version×).
Paul symbolically characterized the Church of God as a mother (Galatians 4:26 Galatians 4:26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
American King James Version×). In Revelation 19:7 Revelation 19:7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.
American King James Version×the Church is seen as the betrothed bride of Christ. Clearly God, through His merciful, loving instructions, has provided His children with a nurturing environment through the Church.
The Church of God has the caring characteristics of a loving mother. A mother has an innate desire to nurture and protect. However, those nurturing and protective abilities are limited by the fact that she is human, made of flesh. Members of the Church of God know and understand, however, that God is the source of the Church’s spiritual love. The apostle John equates God with love: “For God is love” (1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
American King James Version×). He defines what God’s love is: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×).
The Ten Commandments, recorded in Exodus 20:1-26 Exodus 20:1-26 1 And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 You shall have no other gods before me.
4 You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long on the land which the LORD your God gives you.
13 You shall not kill.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s.
18 And all the people saw the thunder, and the lightning, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
19 And they said to Moses, Speak you with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
20 And Moses said to the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that you sin not.
21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
22 And the LORD said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
23 You shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall you make to you gods of gold.
24 An altar of earth you shall make to me, and shall sacrifice thereon your burnt offerings, and your peace offerings, your sheep, and your oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come to you, and I will bless you.
25 And if you will make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone: for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it.
26 Neither shall you go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not discovered thereon.
American King James Version×and Deuteronomy 5:1-33 Deuteronomy 5:1-33 1 And Moses called all Israel, and said to them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that you may learn them, and keep, and do them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 4 The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the middle of the fire, 5 (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to show you the word of the LORD: for you were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying, 6 I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 7 You shall have none other gods before me. 8 You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: 9 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 10 And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. 11 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. 12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work: 14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out there through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day. 16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 17 You shall not kill. 18 Neither shall you commit adultery. 19 Neither shall you steal. 20 Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor. 21 Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s wife, neither shall you covet your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is your neighbor’s. 22 These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly in the mount out of the middle of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them to me. 23 And it came to pass, when you heard the voice out of the middle of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that you came near to me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; 24 And you said, Behold, the LORD our God has showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the middle of the fire: we have seen this day that God does talk with man, and he lives. 25 Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the middle of the fire, as we have, and lived? 27 Go you near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak you to us all that the LORD our God shall speak to you; and we will hear it, and do it. 28 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when you spoke to me; and the LORD said to me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken to you: they have well said all that they have spoken. 29 O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! 30 Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. 31 But as for you, stand you here by me, and I will speak to you all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. 32 You shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God has commanded you: you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.
American King James Version×, summarize how we are to love God and our fellowman. Jesus distilled them into two great commandments: “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39 Matthew 22:37-39 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×). These two great commandments embody the love of God. They are exercised in an outgoing and protective way. Members of the Church of God strive to practice this godly love.
The Church’s members follow the example set by their Savior, Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:38-48 Matthew 5:38-48 38 You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.
41 And whoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.
42 Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not you away.
43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×). They are concerned with two great priorities: placing God first in their lives and loving their neighbor as they do their own lives (Matthew 22:36-40 Matthew 22:36-40 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×). Though not perfect, members of the Church of God live by and reflect the love of the Eternal God. They teach the love of God—His outgoing concern for others—embodied within the gospel of Christ.
We eagerly await the time when all human beings will experience the love of God in this way. Until that day, the day God’s Kingdom comes to earth, we encourage and welcome you to share with us the love of God as expressed by and in His Church.