An informal poll we did recently showed that many believers in Singapore still managed to continue their reading of the Bible even though COVID-19 upset their routines. What kept them going was their desire to know God better, so that they could love Him more. A pastor shares his reflection on learning to love God more.
I love bubble tea. I love Netflix. “Love” has become a casual term these days. Even McDonald’s has its catchy slogan, “I’m lovin it.”
The word “love” has become a standard way to communicate how much an object or activity brings us delight.
In the past, however, “love” was used to declare devotion to the special people in our lives. Jesus’ first and greatest commandment to us is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-38).
What does it really mean to love God? And how can we truly love Him with all of our every being? Does it mean singing love songs to God? Does it mean telling Him how much we love Him? Does it mean serving and doing things for Him?
We all express our love to God in different ways. And we often try to come up with a formula or programme to love Him. Personally, I don’t think there is a 10-step plan to loving God. I believe it would be presumptuous for anyone to tell us how to love God. I think only God can teach us to love Him.
I am often reminded that loving God starts with being loved by Him. In his first epistle, the Apostle John—who was known as “the disciple whom [Jesus] loved” (John 19:26)—expounded on love and rightfully concluded: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
It reminds me that the basis of our love is really simple: God loves us so that we can love Him and others. Without experiencing God’s deep love for ourselves, I would dare say that our expression of “love” may not be sustainable or authentic. After all, if we don’t experience God’s love for ourselves, how can we say that we love Him?
That in turn begs the question: So how do we receive and experience this precious love from God? By opening our hearts and welcoming Him. God is more than a subject for us to examine, study, or research. He is a person for us to relate at an intimate level. Let us allow ourselves to be loved by God with all of our blemishes, brokenness, and sinfulness. We are like the prodigal son—naked and bruised but welcomed, accepted, and loved by the Father (Luke 15:11-32).
After receiving this immense love from God, how do we express it? Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commands . . . Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (John 14:15, 23). We love God by obeying His commands; it is as simple as that. If God commands us to forgive our annoying neighbour, we express our love for God by obeying His command and forgiving our neighbour. If God commands us to help the needy, we express our love for God by doing that (Matthew 25:40).
In John 21:15-19, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. After each answer, the Lord then challenged His disciple with a command to feed and take care of His sheep. In the face of persecution, hardship, and death, the Apostle Peter expressed his love for God by leading the early church and preaching the gospel. His obedience was his expression of love, right to the very end.
How will we love God today? How will we express our love to Him? What is God asking us to do? Let us live out of the divine sentiment, “I love You, God”, not only with words but also with deeds of obedience and faith.