What Does it Really Mean to Love God?
by Margaret Silvester
I was recently reminded of a life-changing meeting with Jesus which took place in a communion service at the end of a camping holiday, when I was half the age I am now. As we shared the bread and wine, the following words echoed through the marquee, ‘By and by when I look on His face, beautiful face, thorn-shadowed face, by and by when I look on His face, I’ll wish I had given Him more, more, so much more - more of my love than I e’er gave before. By and by when I look on His face, I’ll wish I had given Him more’.
My cold heart was broken, as I knelt at the cross. Love engulfed me and filled me, as I gave my whole life to Jesus and was filled with joy, and today I am quite determined to not be in the position of wishing I had given Jesus more or loved Him more, when I meet Him face to face.
The first and greatest commandment, quoted above by Jesus, appears around seventeen times in the bible. So what does it mean to really love God? Firstly, loving God requires knowing Him - knowing Him as revealed in the Bible and as seen in the life of Jesus, who said, “I and my Father are one” (John 19:30). Sadly, it’s possible to have a distorted view of God, shaped by suffering, or a negative experience of the love of a human father. This can block the way to really loving the true God.
To love God means surrendering my whole life to Him – putting Him first, and living for Him, whatever the circumstances. The word ‘surrender’ doesn’t seem to be used much today, nor is it always easily understood. In relation to loving God, I’ve found it to mean, “Stop fighting. Stop struggling. Stop wanting to be in control. Stop wanting your own way. Stop putting yourself first.” Surrender is an act of worship with Jesus at the centre (Romans 12:1).
To really love God means to obey Him when it’s costly and when there’s nothing in it for me. It is obedience to God’s word and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to stand for God’s righteousness. Obedience involves taking risks, so it cannot be separated from trust. When we really love God, we are conscious of His trustworthiness. We are secure and safe in Him and lean on Him in childlike faith, trusting Him with the consequences of our obedience. Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey what I command.” He also said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). For many this is the greatest challenge to obedience, because it means being willing to forgive what may seem unforgiveable.
To really love God does not come from human endeavour. We do not have this kind of love in ourselves. However, “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us” (Romans 5:5). We love God with His own love, ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all’.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for our unconditional, undeserved, unearned love for me. When I have been unfaithful and let you down, Your love has remained constant and sure. Thank You that Your love was poured out at Calvary and that You invite me to love You in return. I pray for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit and an overflow of Your boundless love to others. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
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