Love is Connecting the Dots
I love God. I don’t just believe in God. I love God. And I’m pretty certain that love is more important than belief. After all, one of the most significant and celebrated passages of the Hebrew Bible (which Jesus quoted when asked about the greatest commandment) is Deuteronomy 6:4-5…
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (NIV)
Yet even on the best of days, I tend to question my love for God. I ask myself, How do I know for certain that I love God? Am I just going through the motions? Do I just pretend that I love God? How do I know that I love God?
I could answer these questions several ways, but I always see through my simple answers and still end up with the same question. For example,
- I feel love for God. But I know that true love is more than a feeling. So, how do I know that I truly love God?
- I spend time in prayer with God. But I spend time doing a lot of things that I don’t necessarily love. So, how do I know that I truly love God?
- I am committed to God through a community of faith. But maybe my commitment is just a routine or habit. So, how do I know that I truly love God?
- I follow God’s way of living as passed down through scripture, most clearly in the life and teachings of Jesus. But I mess up and sometimes my motivation is not much more than obligation. So, how do I know that I truly love God?
You see how this works, right? With every piece of evidence of my love, I question myself. I question my actions. I question my feelings. I question my motivations. I question my truth!
Given all these questions I force on myself, I take great comfort in these words from 1 John 5:1-5…
1 Everyone who believes [has faith, trusts] that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God. Whoever loves someone who is a parent loves the child born to the parent. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep God’s commandments. 3 This is the love of God: we keep God’s commandments. God’s commandments are not difficult,4 because everyone who is born from God defeats the world. And this is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith [trust and belief].
So there’s a couple of great points here that encourage me in my quest for affirming true love of God:
- As a members of a family, love is expressed by believing in one another, having faith in one another, and trusting one another (see verse 1)
- Loving other people is connected to loving God (see verse 2)
- Love of God is tied to following God’s commandments (see verse 3)
- Faith (that is, a trusting belief) empowers us to keep God’s commandments no matter what obstacles come our way (verse 4)
Love, you see, is not so easy to define and prove. It has to do with our belief and faith and trust. And it is not something found in isolation, that is, loving God cannot be true without loving God’s children. Love means following the way of life God gives us through the commandments and teachings in the stories of our faith, especially those of Jesus.
So, love means feeling something AND love means spending time with someone AND love means being committed to God and others AND love means following God’s teachings. In other words, John reminds me that it is not just one of my answers that proves my love for God. It’s all of them together that connects the dots and draw a picture of love.
Feeling without commitment is not love. Commitment without quality time in prayer is not love. Following a teaching without loving feelings is not love. Belief without actions is not love. Actions without trust is not love. You get the picture? It’s all about connecting the dots!
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