Our view of God’s purpose in creation is the key to our overall understanding of the Bible.
The traditional understanding ends up sounding like this: God created man to be submissive, obedient, and worshipful. In other words, God needed someone to love Him and to continuously demonstrate that love. Additionally, as the conventional story goes- God’s original plan and purpose in creation was subverted by Satan, a created being (fallen angel), and God then instituted an elaborate and lengthy plan to re-establish what had been lost in the original creation process. By means of this plan God provides a process whereby His wrath and need for justice over mankind’s shortcomings can be appeased. This process ultimately is used to cull mankind and approve those few who will actually be restored. In the conclusion of this restoration process, God will destroy the physical universe in a fiery conflagration and consign most of humanity to eternal torment.
When the Bible declares that God is Love, does that imply that He has established Himself as the ultimate object of Love? Is God Love because He demands Love, because He needs Love? For me that just doesn’t sound right, especially when I consider the words in I Corinthians 13, where the Bible describes how Love operates. As I have noted before, this is not primarily a description of how you or I should operate, but rather it is first and foremost, a description of how the God of Love must operate. This marvelous picture is not anything like that portrayed in the traditional story of God’s plan and purpose in creation and His response to man’s failures.
No, when God declares Himself to be Love, He is saying that He is the ultimate Lover, not the ultimate Love object. No being who creates so He can be Loved is worthy of Love. It would be like earthy parents who have children so they can be loved and cared for in their old age. That may seem like a sufficient reason, but it makes procreation a selfish and less than loving act. Our children are not objects to serve our purpose but rather are outlets for our need to extend ourselves in love.
The alternative view of God’s purpose in creation is this: God is Love and He required a Love object. Mankind serves that purpose. Man was created not to love but to be Loved. This picture of God is totally benevolent. This God has no ego problem. His only need is the need to express His very essence. Man may stray from behaviors which would maximize his happiness here in this life but never does that cause God to stray from His purpose, to be Loving. All that God does conforms to the demand of Love, because to do otherwise would be a denial of His very nature.