Welcome back, truth seekers! In a world that seems to grow more and more chaotic all the time, it is wise to slow down to consider the time and season in which we live. It is a season of deception and distraction. The Bible tells us that, in the last days, deception will increase, and many things will vie for our attention.
We’re living in those days, and I think it is safe to say most of us are being tugged in many different directions. We are often distracted, making it difficult to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) To help us keep our gaze upon Jesus, we are asking questions this week that refocus us on the truth of God’s Word! Earlier, we asked, “Are you a new creation?” and “Are you on a first-name basis with the Living God?” Today, we go a step further to ask, “How can I love God?”
Along those lines, a brilliant lawyer asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, and He responded: 37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38) Wow…tall order. How do you love an invisible deity? What can we give to Him or do for Him that He could ever have need for?
Turns out, it all depends on how we relate to Him! If we have assurance that we are a new creation in Christ, and that we can be on a first-name basis with the Living God, then by the grace of God, we can relate to Him!
Here are just a few of the ways the Bible says to love God:
Loving God is Possible Only as we are Conformed to the Image of Jesus
To love, we must respect that others are separate from us, and free from our control. We must allow others to have their own mind, feelings and desires. If we’re honest, though, we will admit we don’t always love others. Instead, we love ourselves by attempting to force others to conform their mind, feelings and desires to our own! Thankfully, God is not a mirror image of us. Instead, He has created us to be a mirror image of His Son, Jesus! (Romans 8:29) We love God when we truly yield ourselves to Him, truly allowing Him to conform us to the image of Jesus.
Loving God is Possible Only when we get on Board with His Passions and Plans
I know fathers who take their young daughters to daddy-daughter dances. One burly, beast of a man actually paints his daughter’s nails before they go! Why on earth would a manly man do that!?! Because he loves his daughter enough to put his own interests aside in order to enter fully into hers! That little girl becomes a princess when daddy is around! In a similar way, God left heaven to enter our world and experience our passions. The God of the universe “paints our nails!” That is His example of love to us, and we love Him in return when, as we mature, we stop to consider His passions, forsaking our own, and joining Him! For example, He loves to feed the poor, care for the weak and love the unlovable. (Matthew 25:34-36) Amazingly, when we give up our own passions for His, we find that those are truly our passions after all!
Loving God is Possible Only when we Listen and Want to Know Him
Listening is one of the best ways to express love to someone. It is only through listening that we learn who they are, what is on their heart, what their perspectives are, and what is really important to them. We get to know them. When is the last time you read God’s Word, intent who hearing God and what’s on His heart? Did you discover something really important to Him, and did you act upon it? Wow! Those are sobering questions we all must wrestle with. Yet, the measure of our love for Him is clearly identified by how we respond. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
Now for the big one…
Loving God is Possible when we Believe Him
When you were growing up (or perhaps still today!), who truly believed in you? Perhaps it was a school teacher who continually encouraged you, though you knew you were not perfect in that subject. Maybe it was a coach or a mentor who knew there was much more in you than what you were putting out. Believing in someone’s words carries value. Yet, when it comes to God’s Word, is it a self-help book to make us feel good, or is the Bible “basic instructions before leaving earth!” Is it our guide? Do we truly believe in Him who spoke the Word to us? Do we place our faith in God’s Word, despite a different story (or distraction) in the world? His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path! (Psalm 119:105) We love God when we walk in His ways!
How can I love God? Stop and count the ways…then commit to love His ways more than your own! Before long, your love of the Savior will be like that of Mary Magdalene: