When asked what the very greatest commandment was, Jesus answered “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.” This is a profound answer for us, because it reminds us of our very top priority- loving God. As important as it is to not steal or bow down to idols or covet, the most important of all the commandments of God was that we love Him. Why? Because within this one commandment, all others are contained.
We have said that loving God should be our motivation for all other aspects of the Christian walk. If we love Him, we will obey His commands. If we obey Him and serve Him simply because we know it’s the right thing to do, or because somebody told us to, then we will falter. We always will. But if we are doing these things out of our deep love for Him, then we will always have the deep desire to continue in these things.
So loving God is incredibly important. But how can we do this? How can we really, physically love God? Well, as you may recall, we have also said that love as the Bible defines it, and as God intends it, is a verb. It is an action. Love is not just a feeling we get inside- it’s not just a mushy “emotion,” as people so often view it these days. Love is the action of caring for, serving and coming alongside a person because you value them. God created you, guides you and even died for you, all because He loves you. So do you value God?
Of course, we all value God. All Christians value Him, and all Christians do love Him. But do we value and, because of this, love Him enough? Do we always have that true, deep, powerful love for God that spurs us on to serve Him and be with Him? Unfortunately, so often, we do not. Sure, we “feeling love” Him- we would never claim to not “love” God. But we often forget that “feeling love” is not really love. It is the beginning- it is the stage where you recognize that you value Him, and therefore should love Him. But we so often stop there, and call that “love.” We do this with many, if not all, of our relationships. We as Christians need to learn to move on from that point, to the point of “action” loving- “agape” loving. “Agape” (pronounced uh-GAW-pay) is the Greek word meaning “selfless love-“and it is the word used most often to translate God’s love.
So how can we have this agape love for God? How can we love Him actively and selflessly? God isn’t a being that we can lend a coat to or hold the door open for- action-loving Him is much more difficult than action-loving other people. It takes practice, but we can learn to love Him more easily than even loving our closest earthly family members.
God Himself tells us the first step in loving Him in His word, where He tells us “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” So we can action-love God simply by obeying Him! We all know a lot of His commands, and simply by reading your Bible, you can find so many more that you might not even have known about! We are loving God whenever we honor the Sabbath, or love our neighbor, or don’t get angry about things in life… the list goes on and on! And get this- another commandment is to love God! So, if we love Him by obeying His commands, we will also be obeying the command to love Him, and will thus be truly agape-loving God!
So it turns out that the key to loving God is simply to obey Him- which means that loving Him can be a matter of carrying in groceries for the neighbor or locking up after an event at church! And the amazing thing about it is this: in order to love God, we must obey His commands. The second greatest command, after loving Him, is loving His people. Thus, by obeying His command to love people, we are loving Him!
So the key to the greatest commandment is the second greatest commandment- and the key to the second greatest commandment is the greatest commandment! Isn’t it amazing how, when we step back and look at the huge network of laws, commands and guidelines God has given us, we find that they are all intertwined with love in ways more complex than the human mind can even comprehend? You can find innumerable examples of this. For example, in order to share with the body of Christ, we must love the body of Christ. In order to love the body, we must share with the body! And if we want to honor the Sabbath, we need to love God. However, to truly love God, we must honor the Sabbath!
God, throughout the Old Testament, created a massive, incomprehensibly complex lock. He showed us law after law that demonstrated our own inadequacy. And then, upon sending His Son, He provided us with the key to this lock- love! Jesus Christ, because of His great love for us, unlocked this massive network of laws. And through this same key of love, we can unlock the mysteries of the lock that were previously hidden from us! Jesus revealed to us that we were completely unable to fulfill the law. Our only hope was His love- and He gave it to us in abundance!
And now we, with this love that God has poured into us through Christ’s shed blood, can pour this love into the people around us and, in the process, back into God! It’s an unending cycle of love!
Are you beginning to understand the unbelievable importance of Love in the Christian faith? It isn’t just a word we use. Our entire faith is wrapped around love, and Christianity couldn’t exist apart from love.
So since love is so integral a part of our faith, it is imperative that we live out all its facets. Loving God is a massive part of it- but as we’ve seen, loving God has many aspects. In order to truly love Him the way we should, we need to strive to master every aspect of this process of developing great love for Him.