“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.” 1 John 3:1

As a child, I watched, I Dream of Jeannie. Larry Hagman played Major Nelson who found a genie that could grant wishes with the blink of an eye. Nelson could have wished for material possessions, riches, fame yet he chose not to. Whereas his friend, Major Healey tried to make the most of the opportunity. By the time the series ended Nelson and Jeannie had fallen in love and married but Jeannie knew he loved her for who she was, not what she could do for him.

Jesus could be a magic genie to us, God has the power to grant any of our wishes even to the extent of riches and fame, as he did for Solomon. But God wants us to love him for himself and not for what he can do.

Yancey writes, “I believe that God insists on such restraint because no pyrotechnic displays of omnipotence will achieve the response he desires. Although power can force obedience, only love can summon a response of love, which is the one thing God wants from us and the reason he created us.”

A God who makes our lives comfortable and easy may have many followers but would we really love him? Would we bother to develop a relationship with him? Our free will is very important to God, so he woos us, not overwhelming us with his power—never manipulating or domineering us, never using coercion or bribery. It’s not only easy for unbelievers to ignore Jesus, but it’s also easy for Christians to ignore him in their daily lives.

Yet surely this is how we want to be loved. Appreciated for what we do but loved for who we are.