I have been a Christian since I was a primary school kid, attending an AOG church for about 30 years before joining New Creation Church in Oct 2003. Having experienced both churches, I can say that my Chrisitian walk has changed radically after I started attending NCC and this is because NCC has taught me one crucial thing ie. have a good opinion of God.
Having a good opinion of God has fundamentally changed the way I interact with God, and I am now beginning to enjoy a closer relationship with God. When you have a good opinion of God, you say "God is love." Full stop. When you open up the bible, you see God's love splashed all over it - the bible becomes God's love letter to you.
However, when you do not have a good opinion of God, you say "God is love BUT ...". Many Christians still do not have a good opinion of God and I feel sad for them because they cannot enjoy true intimacy with God. They say "God is love BUT God is holy", hence they have this perception that God is like a disciplinary master, always watching to catch them do wrong and punish them, and bring them back in line. When they open up the bible, they see God's wrath everywhere - the bible becomes God's warning letter to them.
When disasters happen or they suffer setbacks in their lives, some Christians get angry with God, asking God why He is doing all these things to them while some Christians do the opposite, meekly accepting all these bad things as God's will, saying "God is love BUT God is sovereign". They react this way because they do not have a good opinion of God. If they do have a good opinion of God, then they would know that God wants us to have an abundant life; it is the devil who is doing all these to them for he steals, kills and destroys (John 10:10).
When we encounter passages in the bible that are difficult to understand, the way we interpret those passages will differ greatly depending on whether we treat the bible as God's love letter or warning letter to us. Let's take a look at John 5:1-12 which tells us the story of Jesus healing a man, who was lame for 38 years, on the Sabbath.
Jesus commanded the man, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.", and immediately the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked (vv8-9). The pharisees saw the man carrying the mat and confronted him, saying "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat."
The man replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.' " So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?"(vv11-12) Take note that the healed man told the pharisees "the man who made me well said ..." BUT the pharisees asked "who is this fellow who told you to pick ...". The pharisees were not rejoicing at God's grace and mercy upon the healed man but they were focused on God's law on the Sabbath being broken.
The pharisees interpreted God's word narrowly, not seeing God's love in His Word but seeing only God's wrath and consequences for "breaking the law of the Sabbath". However, Jesus gave them a different interpretation based on God's love; Jesus challenged them in Luke 6:9 - "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" They refused to answer him, but Jesus gave them the answer by proceeding to heal a man with a shriveled right hand right in front of them.
Jesus interpreted God's Word on the Sabbath this way: "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:11-12)
O, can you see God's love in His Word?