Learning to Love God

Learning to Love God (Part One)

Jesus tells us to “love God with all our mind, soul, and strength.”(Matthew 22:37) That is how he lived while here on earth, but he was the only one to ever do that perfectly.

This is one of those tall spiritual mountains we are challenged to climb but most of us do not have an inclination to try. Even if we do, we do not have the ability to do this by our own strength.

To put our Father first in everything we do, everything we say, every decision we make is the everyday challenge we face as followers of Jesus. This is the way Jesus lived and he wants to help us live this way too.

Before I go further with this, I confess that many of you may have a lot more experience with this subject than I do. I often fail to love God well, to put him above all else. Sometimes I become honest enough to tell God, “I don’t love you the way I should, the way you deserve to be loved.” More than that, it scares me to ask God to help me to surrender myself completely to his will every moment of every day.  To sum it up, I struggle with loving God with all I have, with all that I am. And, the longer I live, the more I realize how far I am from the top of that mountain.

With that being said, I’ve learned a few things along my journey that may help us  learn, remember, and practice how God wants us to love him.

We do not love God naturally; we are more interested in what we want, what serves our desires. So, if we are to love God we must learn how to be less self-absorbed and more God-focused.

Don’t we need to learn how to love in all our close relationships? I believe this is so with our spouse, children, and friends. For example, in marriage we begin with an attraction of some sort but that is not love as much as it is a feeling or desire. Love is something we learn how to do as we get to know the other person and our commitment to that person deepens through the years. So it is with loving God.

There is a distinct difference between knowing about God and knowing God personally. You may have read the Bible through, attended a Christian school or seminary and gained all kinds of theological information but not know God personally. You may love ideas about God but not love him personally.

To that point, I have read splendid accounts of historical figures such as Washington, Adams, and Jefferson and love the principles they espoused in building our country. However, I haven’t been personally acquainted with them or have loved them personally. I have a deep respect for what they have sacrificed for me and our nation but my relationship ends there because I haven’t known them personally. You can know about God but not know him at a deep personal level.

We can we learn to love God at a personal level.

It seems a bit incredulous to me that we can actually love our Creator and Savior in a personal way. That is exactly what God wants for us, to know him, to talk with him, to enjoy fellowship with him, to be a friend to him.

He created us for himself, to worship him and to share his glorious image with others. That plan was interrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve, corrupting the human race. We inherited that sin nature of Adam and Eve and by our disobedience became lost and separated from God. But God loves us so much that he sought to restore that fellowship and sent Jesus to die and pay the price for our sins. God wants us to know him in a deep, personal way.

The first step in learning to love God is a step of faith. That means putting our trust in God’s plan to save us, his offer to forgive us of the sin that separates us from him. This act of God’s love for us is beautifully summed up in John 3:16, “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

While everyone is a part of God’s larger family by creation, this step of faith brings you into the faith-family of God. By your act of faith, you have entered into a personal “saving” relationship with your Heavenly Father. And by entering into his family you are privileged to learn more about him and to grow in the likeness of your elder brother, Jesus. Paul writes in Romans 8:28 that we are chosen to, “be conformed to the image of Christ.” Jesus, your savior is also your example of how you are to learn to love your Father.

Loving God is the best thing you will ever do for yourself. While the challenge to put God first in your life will challenge every selfish instinct in you, the commitment to do this will be the best thing that could ever happen to you. Why is this so?  Because God created you, he knows you better than you know yourself , he loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.

You can trust God with your life, past, present, and future. His instructions for our lives are for our good. He is our loving Father who teaches us how to live and gently corrects us when we are wrong. I’m saying all this to simply say that the depth of our love for God depends on our trust in who he is. Until you believe that God is good, you will never get to the place to loving God for who he is.

Thanks for reading. Next week we will look to Jesus, our Savior and example of how we can learn to love God with all our heart.


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