On Loving God Genuinely
Do you love God because you have to? Or do you actually love God?
Really, this is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. It’s scary, but I think it requires that we be blatantly honest with ourselves.
How many of us “love” God because we have to? Because if we don’t “love God” we go to Hell? How many of us actually view God through that dynamic? How many of us know that the motivation behind that logic is fear? And fear is inherently a selfish motivator because it’s only goal is to save our self.
That’s not always bad. We need this sort of fear to keep us from falling off cliffs and chasing bears.
But this sort of fear outside its intended place can also keep us from abundant life.
I think many of us operate out of a covert fear of God, and not the “FEAR OF THE LORD” from psalms and proverbs. I’m talking about the type of fear an SS officer would have of Hitler, knowing that the wrong response could end with them in a coffin. The type of fear where you express your “love” and “respect” to save your own behind.
Not only is this fearful type of “love” selfish and missing the point, but it’s a bad motivator.
Seriously. Fear is a good short-term investment. It can make drastic changes pretty fast. But its long-game is lacking. Fear, after a longer duration, shuts us down. It empties us. Fear is oppressive in the long run. No one living in fear is living a life fully alive.
That’s why people who make big changes and sacrifice are talked about as “fearless”. They had a motivator which was bigger than fear. Its ambition was greater than self-preservation.
This motivator is love. True love. Its concern is the “other”. And wow, is it a powerful motivator. All of our biggest, wildest, craziest, and most memorable decisions are from love.
Love causes us to move to another state for someone. It causes us to take a career path we loathe for the sake of our children. It causes us to set aside our dreams and aspirations for the sake of our family. It makes people lose their minds, buy flowers and rings and cards.
Love is an endless motivator because love always has more to give.
When it comes to the Lord, then, why are so many of us “loving” Him out of fear?
Of course when we follow Jesus we will obey Him and look like Him more and more each day. But the motivation to obey is not out of fear. The motivation to obey only stems from Love.
When we open ourselves to His Love, and are resting in it, and being shaped by it, we open ourselves to love others.
See, if we feign “love” for the sake of self-preservation, we are likely to be critical, defensive, and full of judgment when it comes to our faith.
When we receive love with open arms, we become love. We embody love. We love our neighbor as ourselves. The capacity with which we can love others and ourselves is directly tied to the capacity with which we love and are loved by God.
Stop striving to look good for Him. Stop striving to do enough. Rest in His love. Rest in the fact that He is doing it all for you. It is already finished because of the cross.
Enjoy that. Savor that. Feast on that. He loves you! He loves you! He CHERISHES you!
Let that reality shape your heart, and your feelings. Then, you will bear much fruit and so prove to be His disciple.