Our Love For God
by Allen Reynolds
We love God because God first loved us. There is no greater love than the love of God shown in its most perfect form through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In response to our holy and loving God who has acted to deliver us from the bondage of sin, we show our love for God. When God delivered the Children of Israel of out Egypt, God showed His love for His people. God offered them a covenant—an agreement to a new relationship with new boundaries. The response God requested in the covenant with Israel was for the people to love God with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves. This is the summation of all the Law and the prophets Jesus says when asked what is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-40). Yet heeding this command seems to be the hard for us as human beings. Love is a verb; it is something we do. Love is the simple command of God and the deep need of humanity. But it is the most difficult thing in the world for us to get right consistently. Let us investigate some of the ways that Scripture teaches us to love God.
Love for God through Obedience
Love for God looks first like obedience to God because of the new relationship we with have with God. Obedience simply means to do what God has told us to do. The Bible is full of commands that God gives people to obey. Some of the first commands were “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and sub-due it” (from Genesis 1:28) and “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it” (from Genesis 2:17). Yet humans do not show love for God because they disobey His commands. Then God creates a covenant with the nation of Israel after delivering them from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. The first lesson of this quarter, from Deuteronomy 6:1-9, known as the Shema, gives a brief summary of that covenant and the commandments that Israel is to obey. The commands include recognizing that the Lord God is God and our only God; not worshiping idols or false gods; taking time to rest and acknowledge God as God; honoring our parents; not murdering; not stealing; not coveting what belongs to our neighbors; not lying about our neighbors; and not committing adultery. These are also known as the Ten Commandments.When we keep these commandments as well as the others in Scripture, we show love for God. Joshua reiterates this love in Joshua 24 by noting he will serve God and only God as his Lord as well as remember and keep God’s commandments.
Love for God through Worship
Love for God looks like worshiping God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Worship is taking time to acknowledge God as God. This is one way to perform the act of the first commandment. We often think of worship as singing; praising with our mouths; dancing or God; bowing before God; lifting our hands; and shouting about who God is and what God has done. However, worship includes show-ing honor to God and sharing intimacy with God with our entire being. Giving is an act of worship. Quiet meditation is an act of worship. Partaking in communion or Eucharist is an act of worship. Serving others is an act of worship. Serving at church is an act of worship. Rest is an act of worship. Crying to God is an act of worship. Celebrating holidays is an act of worship. God’s intention as seen in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy was never to have worship confined to the Temple. The very lives of God’s people in everything we do is meant to be worship—acknowledging God and our special relationship with God. The Psalms are excellent examples of capturing the revelation of loving God through our worship in every way, in every circumstance, and at all times.
Love for God through Serving Others
Love for God looks like serving others. When we care for God’s people and God’s creation, we are showing our love for God. When we give a treat to the child of a friend or help some-one with work around their house, that person feels love. God loves and delights in seeing us love one another. We are called to care for the least and the last; the lonely and the lost; the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. We are called to make room at the table for those who have disabilities, those who are immigrants, and those who are homeless. We are called to visit people who are ill, incarcerated, and over-looked (Matthew 25:44-45). We are called to advocate for justice on behalf of the oppressed, mistreated, and marginalized. We show we love God by feeding God’s children, caring for them, and loving them. We show we love God by feeding, clothing, and helping people meet their basic needs.
Love for God through Sacrifice
Most of all, we show we love God by sacrifice and surrender to God. Jesus tells us there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. Jesus is our faithful friend. He calls us to take up our crosses and follow Him daily. Jesus calls us to give up doing things our way, trying to save ourselves, trying to fix our-selves, and trying to make people conform to us. Following Jesus requires sacrifice. It means rejection by those who reject Him. It means being misunderstood sometimes. It means putting God first in our decisions and giving more than we receive from others. It means not saying what is most popular but instead saying what is right. It means hoping in our suffering and holding joy in our trials. Loving God means choosing God’s will instead of our will. It means doing what brings God glory instead of what brings us comfort. It means loving ourselves enough to trust that God made us on purpose—and not trying to be something we see, but choosing to be what He says. Loving God through sacrifice looks like forgiving those who have hurt us and those who don’t like us. It means showing mercy to those who don’t deserve it. Loving God means recognizing what is natural, and choosing to be more than that even if it isn’t easy. It means recognizing Jesus as Lord, seeking His glory in all we do. Jesus has shown us perfect love. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the Cross for our sins and resurrecting for our hope. And Jesus invites us to die to ourselves daily so that we can live the resurrected life with Him. The Gospels, Paul’s letters, and the other New Testament epistles show us this great love that we can follow to show our love for God.
Allen Reynolds is the Editor of Adult & Customized Content at UMI.