What would you say if asked to describe God's love without using any family terms?


Title pretty much explains it. If you had to describe God’s love for us with appealing to any form of family relationships, what would you say? What sort of description would you give?

Edit: Imagine you’re trying to explain God’s love to someone who says that doesn’t make sense, and who doesn’t have a good idea of family to fall back on.


Awesome? .


An ocean.

10 characters.


Let me clarify:

I’m thinking more, if someone says, I don’t understand what this sort of love is like. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, it doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever seen. In fact it sounds bad, or it sounds frightening, or it sounds dangerous.

How would you describe it to them? How would you tell them what it’s supposed to look like, how God cares for us? Not terms that might be devotional for those who already know, but if you had to explain to someone unsure or uncertain.

(Sorry, I’m not really good at explaining exactly what I’m looking for tonight. I’m just thinking more…there are plenty of people out there for whom saying God loves us like a parent loves their child, is not a comforting analogy. And I’m not sure what words one would use.)


Sirach 6:
14 A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter:
he that has found one has found a treasure.
15 There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend,
and no scales can measure his excellence.
16 A faithful friend is an elixir of life;
and those who fear the Lord will find him.
17 Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright,
for as he is, so is his neighbor also.


Sacrifices all for you


So, specifically avoiding the love of a Father, how about:

The love of a…

  • Creator for His creation
  • Master for His servants
  • King for His subjects
  • Brother for His brothers and sisters
  • Faithful Friend who lays down His life for His friends
  • Husband for His Bride
  • Shepherd for His lost sheep
  • Teacher for His wayward students
  • Savior for lost sinners
  • Doctor for the sick in need of healing

And then explaining what Agape love means, about desiring the other’s good above all, with faithfulness, self-sacrifice, and benevolent delight and joy in the other person. Reading 1 Cor 13 would be a good starting point, especially substituting “God” for “love” in those verses.


One of the best ways is simply to define the term “love”, love being the very nature of God. And 1 Cor 13 does it best:

"If I speak in the tongues or languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears."


Clearly God has shown us that He is a loving Father and He spoke in that term. Jesus was His Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, who came down to earth to be like man was. This was done so that we can understand God’s love.

Without using this analogy, which God wants us to, we may not give an appropriate picture of what and who God is as He wants us to know Him.

Hypothetically without using that analogy, my next best example would be that God is the Good Shepherd.

Here we need to explain the relation of the sheep with the traditional understanding of the shepherd. The sheep being naive and vulnerable on their own are therefore easy prey to the enemies - the wolves. The environment for them can be hostile - there are deserts and ravines where they can get lost or fall into and get injured.

However, the shepherd knows about his sheep, sometimes even the individual sheep. He guards his sheep and know exactly what their danger are. He will look for them, call them by names and if necessary spends hours and days looking for the lost ones. He does all the necessities to keep them safe, and he may sacrifice his time and life to do that.

If the sheep are injured or sick, he will attend to them. He also always bring them to a safe place where food is aplenty (green pasture).

The explanation of the shepherd and the sheep to depicts God relations with us is very touching and convincing to me, besides being biblical too. (Ezekiel 34, Psalm 23, Gospel John 10)


I don’t think I’d abandon the family frame of reference.

I’d start by explaining what familial love is supposed to look like.


God is a benevolent King who cares for his sheep :sheep: :sheep::sheep::sheep::sheep:


I’ve thought about this all day!

So, the one I have come up with fits more of an Australian or English audience.

And it’s the pub. Yep, the pub. Basically, Jesus is the pub owner, and he has regulars who are the apostles, Mary is his mother who deals with feeding everyone who comes in. The Holy Spirit is the music that fills the pub. In Australia and in England, the pub isn’t really just for drinking—in small towns and villages it can be the heart of community, where people congregate and talk and talk about life together.

That’s all I got—slightly “out there” but I tried. :relaxed:




UNCONDITIONAL, endless, immeasurable, all forgiving,


Any description of God’s love that does not include family, (or “community” might be a better word) is going to fall short.
If a person has been given poor images of God’s love, then realizing the communitarian aspect of God’s love can draw that person to experience it. This is part of my own story. The intellectual imaging of the Trinity as a community of love helped me to realize the love that was not well imaged in my family. And then I was able to experience it with others.

My wife is the opposite. She experienced it as a child, and lives love without a lot of self examination or over-thinking.


All Knowing
Beyond Time
All Powerful


We also have to understand that God’s nature was expressed on the cross, because that was God in human flesh, suffering in that human flesh, on that cross. That act tells us the lengths to which God is willing go to in order to demonstrate His love for us. That was God suffering for and due to the sins of His wayward creation.


Still the ocean.

It’s immersive, like a physical, tangible thing that surrounds you.


I would say for my family…“love” was more of a suffocating thing, something you would want to get away from but couldn’t. I’m not sure it wasn’t present, in its own way, it was just mixed with so many other messages. The overwhelming one was that “love” means you have to get hurt. It was something that surrounded you even when you wanted to get away and be yourself and feel emotions and just be a person. The reason you couldn’t do that was because you were too “loved” to be allowed to do so.


That wasn’t love though, or love in a very pure form, because lots of fear and need for control was mixed up in your situation. Love does the opposite; it supports and encourages and accepts. It brings with it an overriding sense of peace and well-being. It wants us to be truly free, to be who were are rather than who someone else wants us to be.

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