Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:1-2)
God’s love for us has a tremendous effect on humans, making us, according to St John, into His children. We are transformed by something which is not only of God but is an experience of God Himself who is love. God’s love is not something God confines to Himself, rather He extends His love to us and we become transformed by divinity. St Paul writes of God: “… I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)
More amazing: becoming God’s children is not the goal or the end-all. For St John says this is only what has been revealed to us so far, but the even more glorious future for us has not yet been revealed. God plans to make us “like Him” – God plans our deification as part of His love for us. We will share in the divine, eternal life. Thus, the Lord says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3). God’s love does not last just for a moment, but goes on forever (unlike God’s anger which does not keep forever – Psalm 103:9).
God’s love is not some emotion of Romanticism, a feeling noun. Rather, God’s love is an action verb which transfigures that which to which it becomes united. Experiencing God’s love is to enter into a marital union with God. Orthodox biblical scholar Eugen Pentiuc writes:
Hence we have here ‘masterful love,’ namely, that type of passionate love that is held under control – or, in other words, a love that is not reducible to a mere feeling but rather manages to strike a balance between responsibility, affection, and passion. This is, in fact, the way the Old Testament describes God’s love toward Israel, as somewhere at the crisscrossing of passionate love and covenantal duty. God loves his people with a burning, long-suffering love. Yet his love does not remain a mere sentiment expressed only in words; his love translates into concrete provisions he carefully brings to completion in due time. (HEARING THE SCRIPTURES, p 133)
We should also note with a great deal of fear and trembling, that being designated as God’s children does not prevent us from deciding to reject God as our Father. As God laments in Isaiah (1:2-4) : “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not consider.” Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward.” We have to decide to live as God’s children and in accordance with His plan for His family.