I am about to say some things that may tweak the nose of many Christians. But not to worry. I am not attacking but explaining. I want to make it clear what Scriptures and Jesus say when it comes to loving him.
Jesus preached many good things that sounded pleasing to the ears of those who heard him. When we read the Gospels we experience many of those good things like, “the kingdom of God is at hand” and “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We just love all the good things God has promised those who believe. After all, we believe. Don’t we?
If we believe that the Scriptures is indeed the Word of God and that all the words of Jesus are true, then be must believe everything he said. We must believe him when he said things like:
“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.” (John 8:42 ESV)
We are also told the “God is love” (1 John 4:8). What an awesome statement to know God is love. He told about love and that love was THE commandment from God. We are to love God and to love others as we love ourselves.
What I am talking about today is loving God and Jesus. Although loving others is part of loving God I want to bring to mind the essence of loving God so you see clearly what Jesus taught His disciples. That being us who believe in him.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 8:3, “But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” We want to be known by our Father. We want and need His approval. But when it comes to loving God and loving Jesus (who are one and the same) Jesus asks three questions. These questions need to be thought about and answered. The first question is, “Do you love me more than others?” A simple question as it is. Sure. I love you. His second question is, “Do you love me?” Didn’t I just answer that? Then there is His third question which is, “Do you love me?”
By now some of you recognize the reference being made here. In the Gospel according to John he writes of an encounter Jesus had with Peter. The disciples and Jesus had just finished breakfast and Jesus said to Peter:
“’Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” (John 21:15-17 ESV)
Jesus ended this inquiry by saying, “Follow me.”
It is very easy for Christians to say they love Jesus but the real question is, do they? Ask yourself this question right now. Do you love Jesus? You might agree that this Scripture reference is saying, “If you love me you will follow me” and you would be correct. But it means to follow Jesus in all things no matter how hard it gets.
Let’s take a look at what Jesus says about loving God. Jesus was put to the test one day by a lawyer. He wanted to know what needed to be done to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered him by asking him a question testing his own knowledge of Scripture.
“What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26 ESV)
A lawyer has a legalistic mindset. They rationalize everything based on their knowledge. I’m sure he was feeling proud of himself when he answered Jesus.
“And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27 ESV)
His pride was no doubt confirmed when Jesus answered his question.
“You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:26 ESV)
The rest of the dialog went into the love of others but nothing more was really discussed about loving God. Perhaps because it was obvious from the Scripture reference that we are to love God with all out heart, soul, strength, and mind.
So, there it is. If we say we love God then we must love him by meeting all four of these conditions. Rather, that we keep these commandments to love God and others. Look at what Jesus says about loving him:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15 ESV)
If we say we love Jesus then we are saying we love him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Let’s look at each of these conditions in more detail.
A mother and father may say to their children, “I love you with all my heart”. Spouses may look into each other’s eye lovingly and say, “I love you with all my heart”. What are you really saying in these instances? You’re saying, “I love you with everything that is me, my entire being”.
Do you love Jesus with everything that is you?
The soul is the spiritual you, if you will. It is the part of you that lives, the part that believes, that cares, that will continue on into eternity. It is the eternal you.
Do you love Jesus enough to put your soul on the line for Him by rejecting evil at every turn?
This is not physical strength but strength of will, discipline, and determination. Are you determined to love Jesus at all costs?
Where are your thoughts at any given moment of the day? If you were randomly asked throughout the day what you were thinking of at that exact moment, how often would you say, “Jesus”? Do you consciously think about what Jesus wants you to do or how he wants you to act?
The reason they crucified Jesus was not because of his so-called blasphemies, or his healings, or his casting out of demons. He was crucified because he was a huge troublemaker. He said it himself.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)
The concept of family came directly from God and yet here was Jesus tearing families apart. On top of that he threatened with a sword. But they did not understand what Jesus was really saying to them.
The “sword” with the Word of Truth, the Word of God. And if you loved Jesus then you may end up having to leave your family behind to do it. Jesus wants us to love him more than out parents, more than our own children, and more than any other living person or thing on earth. To do so bring division.
I am sure you ave experienced some form of this division in your own walk. Some more intense than others. It can be a frightening thing to tell your family you have found Jesus only to be looked at as a freak or cult follower or any other label they care to put on you.
Understand, this is exactly what we are being called to do. Not to cause a fight with our loved ones but to willing accept Jesus as Lord of our lives and to love Him more than anything else. When we love him we follow his example and his teachings. This is a growing process and a journey through life that is always in confrontation with the world around us.
This does not mean we are to separate ourselves into a secluded commune hidden from the world or to become a hermit and never leave our homes. In fact, we are instructed to, “Go out into the world and preach the Gospel”. But to do this effectively we need to be sure we have a good relationship with Jesus. When we get right with God he begins to change us from the inside out. Our inside life becomes evident to the world around us that we are Christ’s and we love them. We are to love our enemies too. But to do that, again, we must have a walk with Jesus that strengthens us and our faith. The only way to do this is to obey him and follow him.
If we do not love Jesus more than family then we allow our families to sway our beliefs and we never get where we need to be. Your ideas change to suit the behavior of your loved ones. This is a fact that has proven itself time and time again. We want to please others and to do that we give in to our morals and beliefs and eventually lose them altogether.
Don’t worry if you feel you do not love Jesus the way he asks us to. As I said before, it is a growth process. You start by staying in his Word by reading the Bible. You fellowship often with believers. Become mentored by a trusted Christian leader. And above all else, pray and stay in prayer always. Walk by the Spirit and you will not fall.
By accepting Jesus you received eternal life. Now share that life with those around you and do not let them share the death that is in them with you.
“To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:59-60 ESV)
I pray for all of you who have read this that Jesus open your heart and mind to the truth of His Word and that you will always proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the world. Amen!