Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How We Should Love God

Chapter Five
Reordered Love: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

     Jesus not only tells us we are to love God, but also explains how much we are to love him. In phrases that sound like they come straight from a telegram, Jesus says that love for God should be "with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our minds, and with all our strength." These short phrases indicate that love for God includes emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical components. All together they mean that we are to love God completely and unconditionally - with everything we are, with everything we have, and in everything we do, no matter when, no matter where. As Augustine says, "In no time or place could it be wrong for a person to love God with his whole heart and his whole soul and his whole mind."
     We are to love God in body, soul, and spirit; in head, heart, and hand; in thoughts, words, and deeds. We are to love God in relation to food, clothing, shelter, money, wealth, possessions, houses, cars, and clothes. We are to love God at work, rest, and play. We are to love God at church, at school, at home, at the office, in the bedroom, in the law court, or on the tennis court. We are to love God in the family, in friends, and among acquaintances. We are to love God in the neighborhood, on the highway, in the mountains, and at the beach. We are to love God during the morning, at noon, in the evening, at night, on a weekday, on the weekend, on a holiday. We are to love God in our occupations, on vacation, in avocation, in celebration, in desperation, in aspiration, in sickness and in health, whether rich or poor, for better or worse, free or bound. We should be consumed with the love of God in our persons, possessions, and pursuits, at every place and at every time, just as Moses said we should:

These words [concerning love for God], which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart, You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:6-9)

     How do we know if we love him? Is there any tangible way to measure our affection for him? While love for God entails the previously mentioned emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical aspects, it is also volitional in character. Submission to God's authority and obedience to his will are indicators that we love him, especially when we are under fire and even if we aren't. If you love God, you will keep his commandments, and if you keep God's commandments, you love him. The reverse is also true. If you don't love God, you won't keep his commandments, and if you won't keep God's commandments, you don't love him (John 14:14, 21, 23; 15:10; 1 John 5:3). When we come to a fork in the road, subordination to God and obedience to God's will indicate affection for him, and insubordination to God and disobedience to his will indicate disaffection for him. While important, feelings aren't the determining factors in this transaction. They may or may not be present. Rather, submission and compliance or resistance and defiance are the litmus tests of love or lack of love for God. As C. S. Lewis puts it, "The real question is, which (when the alternative comes )do you serve, or choose, or put first? To which claim does your will, in the last resort, yield?"
(from pages 127-128)
by David K. Naugle

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