Perhaps the most challenging distinctive of Christianity is that our God wants us to love him. While world religions talk of studying about their gods, following teachings, keeping rules and living solemn, self-sacrificing lives, becoming more self-aware, our God asks for something more. He sent his son to show us how to love because that's what he wants. He wants us to love him, to love him with all our heart and mind and soul.
Love is longing for the presence of your loved one; you think about that person throughout the day. Much more than words, this relationship is a new way to live life. Jesus' disciples learned it through experience. Toward the end of his life, John could speak of nothing else, "... let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions" (1 John 3:18 NLT).
Love demands relationship. You can memorize stacks of facts and know a lot about someone, you could even develop a fairly accurate profile describing and explaining personality and predict future behavior, but not develop a relationship with that person. Making the choice to love someone forces you to see beyond your private world, beyond your words, beyond yourself altogether. Love feeds on shared history, affection, secrets, surprises, mysteries, generosity, and spontaneity. In a manner of speaking, you make history together.
Marcus Brecheen reminded the church Sunday, "It is an act of unfaithfulness, an act of rebellion, to forget what God has done ... to forget our history." Referring to Psalm 78, Marcus proclaimed the truth that our God, our passionate loving God, wants to be remembered.
Our shared history becomes part of heaven's highlight reel. It might have been awhile since you've sensed your presence on the highlight reel, but nothing marks a shelved relationship more than forgetting the memories. Share the stories; retelling your shared history honors him and makes him proud. And it keeps your focus on him, not on your fears or boot-straps. We are not designed for privacy; we are designed to be known, to be public. Our stories should be as public as God's story.
Don't forget. Loving God means we feel his presence, respond to his nudging, see him in others, hear him when he speaks, and tell of his mighty wonders when he is silent. All the while he never leaves us, he understands when we don't have the words to explain and listens when no one else will, and is constantly searching for ways to bring out the best in us.
He loves us. How do you know if you love him?
This song, from "Fiddler on the Roof," has a hidden message about loving in truth and action, with or without the words.
(Tevye, the patriarch of the Jewish family) Golde, I have decided to give Perchik permission to become engaged to our daughter Hodel.
(Golde, the patriarch's wife) What? He's poor! He has nothing, absolutely nothing!
(Tevye) He's a good man, Golde. I like him. And what's more important, Hodel likes him. Hodel loves him. So what can we do? It's a new world... A new world. Love! Golde, do you love me?
(Golde) Do I what?
(Tevye) Do you love me?
(Golde) Do I love you? With our daughters getting married and this trouble in the town, you're upset, you're worn out. Go inside. Go lie down! Maybe it's indigestion.
(Tevye) Golde, I'm asking you a question...do you love me?
(Golde) You're a fool.
(Tevye) I know ... But do you love me?
(Golde) Do I love you? For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?
(Tevye) Golde, the first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared.
(Golde) I was shy.
(Tevye) I was nervous.
(Golde) So was I.
(Tevye) But my father and my mother said we'd learn to love each other. And now I'm asking, Golde, do you love me?
(Golde) I'm your wife.
(Tevye) I know ... But do you love me?
(Golde) Do I love him? For twenty-five years I've lived with him, fought him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his. If that's not love, what is?
(Tevye) Then you love me?
(Golde) I suppose I do.
(Tevye) And I suppose I love you too.
So, God asks, do you love me? Yes, remember when we ...? Yes, we have shared history. Yes, I love you!
The task for the week is simple ... tell at least one story of God's invasion of your life. Tell about your love.
More will come ...