It must be love…

For a long time I have been pondering what it means to love God.  Contrary to some obscure what kind of “defective personality test are you” test I took randomly on Facebook (why take such things you may well ask? At least I didn’t publish it!), I am not wooden, but nor am I given to gushing emotion.  I am not one to splash the “I love you”  words around liberally.  And so I have come to wonder about God and love.  What and how do I love him?  We often sing songs at church about loving God.  “Jesus I am so in love with you” one song-writer croons.  But are we?   For me the “in love” phrase conjours up the domain of romantic lovers, exciting and passionate for sure.  But this love, for all its fire and energy, lacks depth, commitment, the burnished resilience that only the gritty journey of life together can forge.  It passes, is readily kindled and extinguished.  I don’t love Jesus in this romantic way.  However, I am not decrying intimacy with God.

I am reading Michael Frost’s book “Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post Christian Culture” at the moment.  He takes an interesting meander through the old testament’s language of God and love, and while the analogy is often used of the relationship between a man and a woman, it is always unflattering.  A relentlessly tragic story of unfaithfulness, the language often sordid and emotive.  A sad story of God remaining faithful to a people who continue to betray.  (Song of Solomon is a notable exception and probably an unecessary digression for the discussion here).

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  And the second is like it.  Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Frost asserts that this passage “underscores the fact that for Jesus, it is impossible to love God apart from expressing that love physically and practically into the lives of our neighbours.”(p308).

Now this is something that resonates more for me, it is loving as a verb rather than some feel good sensation in my heart, stomach or whatever is the culturally acceptable seat of emotions.

Frost goes on to list nine different ways we can “love God”, beginning with a piercing quote from Rowland Croucher – “You love God just as much, and no more, than the person you love least.”  Here are the nine headings:

Love God by loving others

Love God by obeying Jesus

Love God by lingering in God’s company

Love God by speaking about the things of God

Love God by longing for the return of Christ

Love God by forsaking all other gods and idols

Love God by laying down our life

Love God by loving what he has created.

Love God by forgiving others.

I think Frost is onto something here.  There is much to unpack in nine sentences that holds a light to  the ways in which I love God, and the ways in which I fail to.

So then, of what shall we sing?

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5 thoughts on “It must be love…

    1. This is a very good observation one that I really connect with, I think that we still tend to ‘divide’ worship into a very narrow frame of reference, namely to that of a twenty minute window of opportunity each week, and our motive in doing this is to make us feel better about ourselves, not that this is wrong, but worship that creates, and sustains a strong focus on that of ‘feeling good’ puts us in a (potential) position of making it egocentric. If this worship is not carried through into the broader scope of our everyday lives it borders on tokenism. I’m beginning to see more and more (as you’ve already stated) that worship is ‘integrated’ and as such there are endless ways to worship God, if Sunday is the only measure of worship, it carries with it elements or borderline idolatry, why? Because worship becomes the focus and or object, and not God.

  1. How sad it is that those who strive for fame, (and, if I’m not mistaken, most celebrities do) might later wish to “be left alone.” I find it painful to experience the depths to wish humans can sink in their desire to smear others, to take them down. Hatred runs rampant when kindness and forbearance would make everyone that much happier. Can the detractors really be at peace with themselves? I might sound presumptuous, but I pray that by being honest, compassion will grow within me and help extend healing to others. thanks for a thoughtful post.

  2. Hi Beryl, thanks for your comment. It is sad. I appreciate that you have thought about it from a personal perspective – it is easy to see others as to blame for the cult of celebrity, and not see our part in doing something positive. And no, not presumptuous. Not sure how your comment ended up on this post rather than the other one!

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