Loving God

Your people say, “The way of the Lord is not just,” when it is their own way that is not just. Ezekiel 33:17

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

Men waiting in Antigua, Guatemala | September 2018

Martin Luther is famously to have said, “Love God!?! I hated him.” He was being honest about his relationship with God insofar as he knew God to be a righteous judge, who justly and inscrutably condemns sinners. He knew he was a sinner. He knew he was justly to be condemned. He knew, also, that he was to love God. His heart simply was not in it. Only when he discovered the truth about God’s grace, mercy and love did he begin to embrace this commandment wholeheartedly.

For reasons different than Luther’s I have had trouble also with the notion of loving God. Part of the problem is that of the concept itself. I love pizza, good wine, my wife, my grandchildren, and technology (not in that order!). Am I to have those same feelings and intentions toward God as I do toward pizza and technology?

Obviously the language gets in the way. To love God is the first commandment of the two great commandments. We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. We are commanded to be all in on God. He is to be everything to us.

Perhaps that’s why I feel so disconnected from this commandment. I’m all in on too many other things – or better put – I’m all in on God until something else gets in the way of my love for God. My pride, my fear, my appetite, my desire for applause: All these vie for attention and clamor for the #1 spot in my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Too often they win.

I do not want to do the same thing I accuse good Lutherans of doing in my blogpost from yesterday. I can be more careful and committed to loving God from my heart when I recognize that “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Moreover we must remember that “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son” (1 John 4:10).

His love kindling and fanning the flames of my love for him makes this a commandment which is true and good.

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