From time to time, we men struggle with love and its meaning. It can be helpful to take inventory of the things we say we love. I love hunting when the game is plentiful. I love golf when I am striking the ball well. I love Texas Ranger baseball when the team is winning. Conditional love. Sigh.
Unconditional love is much more serious and important. We love our families, our wives, and our kids and they need us to love unconditionally. We should always be focused on this and working to be better. So, what about God? How do we learn to love God? In J.D. Greear’s book Gospel-Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary, Dr. Greear offers a great perspective:
How, then, do we learn to love God? That’s the dilemma of the “great commandment”: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). But how can true love be commanded?
Being commanded to love someone you have no natural affection for becomes wearisome. True love grows as a response to loveliness. The first time I saw my wife, I felt the beginnings of love for her. The more I’ve gotten to know her over the years, and the more I’ve seen of her beauty, the more I’ve grown to love her. My love is a response.
Love for God is commanded in Scripture, but the command can only truly be fulfilled as our eyes are opened to see God’s beauty revealed in the gospel. The Spirit of God uses the beauty of the gospel to awaken our hearts to a desire for God. “We love Him,” the apostle John would say, “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NKJV). Love for God grows out of an experience of the love of God.
When we focus primarily on behavior change, we are ignoring the real issue: a heart that doesn’t want to love God. That’s certainly not to say we should only obey God when we feel like it; only preaching Christianity primarily as a set of new behaviors will create people who act right without ever loving right. This creates hypocrites, weary and resentful of God.
Take A Look
“The greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” —Victor Hugo