Tempted though I was to say yes, I couldn’t confidently claim to. My Bible lay open before me with the red-lettered statement underlined: “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15. That didn’t sound so bad…until I read it elsewhere like this: “If you love Me, you will obey Me.”
That was a blow as I had just been thinking about how much of God’s Word I had not been following over the past years. If obedience is the sign of a true lover of Jesus, then was I a true lover of Jesus? What did it even mean to love Jesus anyway?
The Greek word agape sprang to mind. I remembered learning on different occasions that God wanted us to agape Him. Agape refers to loving a person because you find them most precious. Your love for that person is not merited by him and is therefore unconditional. This love generates a consuming passion for that person’s wellbeing. Translating that to Jesus, I asked myself some questions: Is He most precious to me? Does He have to do what I want, how, and when I want in order for me to love Him? Do I have a consuming passion to live for His glory and pleasure?
I recently learned that when we love God, we cannot love Him graciously as He does us because He has done no wrong to require grace. Our love for Him should be because we find complete satisfaction and enjoyment in Him. It begged the question of whether or not I delighted in Him; whether or not I found complete enjoyment and satisfaction in Him. After all, that was what made David a man after God’s heart (Yes! I finally understood what that meant).
I made things more uncomfortable for myself by looking up Matthew 6:21 “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I may not like it, but the truth of the matter is that one can always tell what a person loves by seeing what he most passionately devotes himself to.
Then I asked myself the ultimate question: if my answer to the list of questions I posed above was “yes”, then why wouldn’t I obey God? What reason would I have to disobey the One I most treasure; to shun the One I most passionately want to please and glorify?
The answer was plain as the nose on my face, and it cut me deeply to realize it: Jesus was not the most precious to me. I didn’t find satisfaction and enjoyment in Him, and I did not delight in Him at all. My following Him had deteriorated over the years to being merely out of habit than out of conviction and devotion. My love for Him was conditional, half-hearted, and manifested by a perpetual groan in my throat and frown on my face. I whined about this and that as I plodded through the day, talking to God as if He was lucky I still bothered. I lied to Him daily about giving Him my all when in fact I was giving Him only what little I could afford to spare. I privately thought He was ‘kind of cool’ and publicly declared how ‘difficult’ He was.
Is that love?
No. No it is not.
Finding out that I was not as loving to God as I thought was one of the sharpest cuts the Word of God has given me. As I sat there, bleeding inwardly, heart torn and pride crushed, I could only whisper, “I’m sorry. I am a fool. Please forgive me.”
God is good. He teaches me everyday what it means to love Him. The more I spend time with Him, the more I enjoy Him and find satisfaction in Him. The more I study His Word and listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the deeper my love for Him grows. I can’t quite explain it, but I died that day, and then lived; forgiven and renewed. I love Jesus with all my heart. And the more I love Jesus, the more I love others, and the more I love myself. The more I love Jesus, the more I want to live and continue loving Him.