To Know Him Is To Love Him
Hi Friends, Jeanne here. I have a question for you:
“Who is Elon Musk? What is he like?”
If you asked a hundred people, you would get a variety of answers, including several, “I have no idea.” You’d probably form some concept of Elon Musk based on what you’d heard and read. But unless you know Elon Musk personally, you’d have no way of knowing what he’s really like.
“Who is God? What is he like?” If you asked a hundred people, you’d a variety of different answers, again including several “No idea.” But God is who he is, regardless of what people believe about him.
What is God really like? Unless you know him, you’re going to take someone else’s word for it, just like you would with Elon Musk. I was raised in a family that believed in God, that went to church regularly, that participated in “religious education.” I had a concept of God that was influenced by what people said about him and by what I read.
As a kid I was taught the Ten Commandments (and thanks to all that “Religious Education,” I can probably still recite them.) Jesus even referred to the greatest commandment:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength.”
My line of thought went something like this: How do you love God, an invisible being so far away? And who would know whether or not I obeyed this commandment? In my mind, love was a warm fuzzy feeling. Thinking about God didn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling, but I could say it did and no one would know the difference. So, I could “check off” the first commandment and move on to worrying about the easier commandments like “Thou shalt not steal.” Is it stealing if you sneak a cream puff out of the refrigerator when you’re supposed to wait until after dinner?
When I became a follower of Jesus, I realized there is a whole lot more to the Christian life than going to church and trying to obey the commandments. The question remained: how do I love God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength? I understood that this all-out love is much more than admiration, or general gratitude for a wealth of blessings. But to be honest, I still didn’t love God this way right off the bat. Rather, I spent years getting to know who he is and how he feels about me. There is nothing that describes this process better than the phrase “falling in love.”
When you meet someone special, you think about them a lot. You want to spend time with them, getting to know them, and sharing yourself with them. As time passes you become closer and closer until you can’t imagine doing life without them. This has been my experience with God.
The process is different than human romantic love, of course. God is not going to keep you on the phone for hours or send you twenty texts a day. His love-gifts won’t be delivered by a florist or UPS driver. I fell in love through the Word of God and the Spirit of God. I read the Bible to learn what God says about himself. I also learned prayer as a conversation, not a monologue. The best part of my relationship with God is that he both listens and speaks to me. Often his voice is a gentle whisper; but occasionally he rocks my world with a virtual shout!
When people fall in love, sooner or later they realize that their beloved isn’t quite perfect, but I’ve never experienced that with God. Not only does he never hurt me, but he always forgives me when I hurt him. He doesn’t hold grudges, and if I run away from him, he follows me and welcomes me back the moment I turn around. He only wants what is good for me, no matter what it costs him.
There were plenty of times in my past that I thought God was being unfair or unloving, but I was wrong. The evil that’s in this world is not from God at all, but from our enemy. The devil and his minions attack us and try to make us think that it’s God doing it. He’s so good at it that even many Christians don’t realize that God is essentially being framed, but that’s a topic for another day.
I have come to know that God can be absolutely trusted; that his plans for me are far better than anything I could think of for myself. I have begun to experience the joy of his kingdom right here, right now.
I can’t give you a shortcut to this place, but I can assure you that if you honestly seek him, you will find him. It will be worth everything you have to know and experience how much he loves you. There was a time when truly loving God seemed impossible to me. But now I can say without reservation that the more I know him, the more I love him, and want to know him more.
How about you? How have you experienced the love of God? As always, your comments and questions are welcome!