Image via Author, Bighorn Range, Wyoming
There is a fun little book that a friend gave me to read. I could not put it down. The book, “Love Does” by Bob Goff, is about how Bob and his family have chosen to do whatever God puts in their hearts to express love for people who come into their lives. This simple decision has led to amazing experiences all around the world. I will give no spoilers, so you must read the book for yourself.
The book came to mind as I was thinking about what it means to love our God with all our being. The Lord reminded me that in my relationship to Him, Love Does. True love produces evidence. What then are the evidences that express love for our God?
To begin to answer this questions I will start with the example of marriage. Marriage, the joining of two into one flesh, is a reflection and a type of the relationship our God desires with His true disciples. The “two into one” relationship describes the union between our God and His true children. Marriage, then is a model for our relationship to our God.
What does a true and consuming love look like in a marriage relationship? Certainly such a love will be selfless, for the opposite of love is the assertion of self. And so it is in our relationship with our God. Love for our God grows as we diminish our self-life and yield to His life in place of ours.
Marriage is a mutual submission relationship. It is not a “50-50” deal but a “100-100” relationship in which each person gives all to the other. Such submission is true love. This is the relationship of deep union we have with our God as well. We give all our living over to Him, and He gives all of Himself to us. Ian Thomas tells us that the God-human relationship is, “All of my God in all of me.”
Eliminating competing interests to focus time and attention upon one’s partner is an expression of true love. This means being always alert for a word or action from the other . Always attentive, listening, responsive. This is how our relationship with our God is to work. It is how we can express love and and join in conversational communion with Him every day.
To grow deeper in our love for God we also must be rid of the “God up there” concept. This is the religious idea that our God is separated from us, existing in the heavens while we muddle through life on earth. We must also be rid of the other-worldly, mysterious kind of relating that is done at certain times and places, like Sunday mornings in a special building or on certain holidays. These are essentially “viewing hours” for our God and not a union relationship of deep love for Him. Our God desires to reveal Himself to us and within us all day, every day. He has no desire for us to only view Him briefly a few times each month and to live functionally separated from Him.
1 John 4:16 “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.”
This “God up there” idea with its “viewing hours” must be replaced with an intimate loving union, a two-into-one relationship. We need to drop the old to embrace our God as always pursuing us, always talking to us, always seeking to work in us, always exuberant and overflowing in His love for us, and always desiring our intimate companionship.
We must be careful to not let other loves get in the way of our foremost love for our God. In my life, this has meant leaving behind all that does not draw me deeper into my love for my God. These were not decisions based upon some appeal to morality but were expressions of my desire to have nothing in the way of conversational communion with Him throughout the day.
My God has rewarded these choices. He has brought about a deeper sense of His presence, of love, joy, peace, and contentment that could never have come from the things I have left behind. Not only do I not miss anything I have given up, but I have come to see just how much those things were interfering with a true love for my God.
To love your God fully will result in and increase in holy living. Our highest priorities are not obedience, religious works, managing sin, or doing good works. These things are all the fruit of a love for our God and of His work in us through that love. To love your God with all your being is the root of all holiness. If we do not love our God most of all, these other efforts to be holy are merely carnal religiosity.
John 14:23-24 “Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.” We have treated this verse as a command to obey, but what if it is an “if-then” statement? If we love Jesus, He and the Father will come to live with us. We will keep His words by the strength of His life in us. This is what happens when we love our God.
These practices represent the core of the Christian experience of loving our God with a Great Commandment love. These will deepen our love for our God as well as our obedience and holy living. Everything we do that produces a greater appropriation of divine love for our God will be rewarding beyond anything we could otherwise imagine.