If you don't have a love for God, how do you develop one?
- DK from Toledo, Oh.
God first loved us (Part 1)
What an interesting question! Have you asked yourself where that question comes from? Have you asked yourself why you want to develop a love for God? Suppose a person had no interest in reading and yet had an intense desire to establish a love of reading. Wouldn't that be unusual since, if you have no interest in something, you normally have no interest in being interested in it?
I can start off by telling you that your desire to develop a love for God comes from God himself. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says; "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts…" God deeply desires relationship with us and placed a hollow spot inside us that can be filled only by his Spirit. We want him because he wants us.
One of the most beautiful love letters God wrote to each of us to demonstrate how intimately he knows and loves us is Psalm 139. The Message phrases verses 16 and 17 this way; "You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day."
Therefore, be of good cheer! You have already taken the first step in developing your love of God by asking your question. Behind your question is thirst. Thirst leads to seeking water. You are seeking "living" waters; purpose and meaning and life in abundance. God has those things in store for you through a personal relationship between you and him.
Next: How do you resist someone who is totally smitten with you?
Drawn to the irresistible one (Part 2)
It is very difficult to resist someone who is head over heels in love with you. I know a woman who visited a house where there was a litter of kittens. One kitten jumped on her lap, purred pleadingly and looking up into her eyes adoringly. When it was time to go, the kitten clung to her and would not be put down. This woman had absolutely no intention of acquiring a cat but she left with one; irresistibly drawn to the kitten who had chosen her.
Well, God has chosen YOU. When you understand how great is God's love for you and how much he wants to hang out with you and share your life, you will be hard pressed to resist loving him back. Examine your pre-conceived ideas about God and pitch out those which don't align themselves with the fact that God is crazy about you.
This may be a hard concept to accept. There is a lot of nonsense out there about a stern, unforgiving, capricious God with a stick in his hand, watching every minute to catch you doing something wrong. Then ZAP! That is not correct.
God's love, mercy, forgiveness and grace are revealed to us in his great love letter, the Bible. It is worth reading it over and over until his love shines through and you can receive it. Even without a Bible, every human being should be able to look at the universe and know that someone marvelous took exceeding care to design the world to be both beautiful and bountiful as a love gift for his creation.
Another thing to consider is that loving God evokes our emotions. Some people consider loving God a mental exercise, a philosophical or academic pursuit. Not so! That is not how he loves us. He loves us with passion, not emotional distance. God created us with great capacity to feel emotions deeply. The most satisfying expression of that is when passion erupts toward God, the lover of our soul.
Next: How to get to know him so you can love him?
Becoming friends with God (Part 3)
There are a few people in the Bible whom God called "friend" (Abraham and Moses for example), and I have noticed something about their relationship with God. Yes they had great respect and awe for God but they were also very real with him.
You know what it is like when you can be completely yourself with someone? No posturing or game playing; just honesty and depth. That's how we need to communicate with God and that's how we can develop a deep love for him. Friends talk things over. So talk everything over with God with no formality. Tell him how you really feel and all about your hopes and dreams and disappointments.
I remember the advice I received when I was making the decision to ask Jesus into my heart. "Sit down and tell him everything in your heart as if he is right there beside you listening to every word - because he is" said my cousin. I did that just the way he said and that was the beginning of a beautiful romance.
Let's recap. Remember that you are off to a great beginning because you have a desire to develop a love for God. That comes from him. Secondly, recognizing how deeply God loves you causes you to reciprocate that love and delve in deeper with him. You can't resist someone who loves you so passionately. Finally, treat God like your best friend. Share everything in your life with him until you realize that the two of you are inseparable. Loving God is very emotional so open up and surrender your emotions to him and be ready to "feel" love - both his and yours.
Here's my prayer for you: "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19)