How Do I Love God?

By loving others. That is the ONLY way that matters.

Wait. What about worship? What about singing songs and celebrating Him? What about prayer and quiet time? What about Bible reading? What about sacrifices? What about tithing??

Nope. Those things are meaningless to God if we are not loving others (Isaiah 58, Amos 5, et al.).

"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20

This is deep. So the only way to love God (whom we have not seen) is by loving others (whom we have seen)? Perhaps the only way we see God is by seeing Him in others? (It's the only way I have ever seen Him.) "...the Kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21. "...one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." Ephesians 4:6. Kind of makes the words "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord, I want to see You" seem a little silly.

So then, the real question, the only one that matters, is:

"How do I love others?"

5 comments:

Kyle said...

When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest he said, *first* is love the Lord your God, *second* was love your neighbor as yourself.

We can't love others unless we love God. God is love, so all love originates from Him, we don't have it in ourselves to love others. We can only pour out what God has poured in.

Also let us not forget scripture said those who love God obey Him. So tithing, prayer, every step of obedience is the response of a loving follower of Christ. Those aren't unimportant. So I don't think we can tell a new christian hey just go "love" others and that will lead you to Christ, without showing them what a redeemed life of worship is in response to a not only loving God, but the God *of* love.

They can go be nice, serve others and have compassion. But they can't know love unless they know God.Now when we do know God, loving our neighbors should be the outpouring of our life, it can't help but be.

Ken said...

Yes, but Jesus said "...and the second is LIKE it". Jesus Himself said that loving your neighbor is LIKE loving God.

I think you CAN tell a new Christian to "just go love others", and that will lead them to Christ more truly than any of the other obedient things you mentioned. Without loving others first, the other works of obedience are unimportant.

You have taken scripture and reversed it. You said that "we can't love others unless we love God". The Bible says that we can't love God unless we love others.

Are you suggesting that you have to be a Christian first before you can know love? I can agree with you that all love originates from God. But isn't God's love extended to all and felt by all? Or does God reserve His love only for those who say the sinner's prayer first? Isn't God's love shown to us in this, that when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? God loved me before I was even born. And there are plenty of loving people who aren't Christians yet, and may never be, but they have seen and experienced God's love. How? Through people.

Kyle said...

I'm saying this, that unless we know God we can't know love, because God is love. God's love is extended to all but not felt by all. Ask some lost folks if they feel loved by God, see what % says no. God doesn't reserve any love, but most don't respond or receive. My point has nothing to do with God's ability or nature to love us as sinners and everything to do with the fact that there is only 1 real, true form of love and that's God. So unless we meet Him, we haven't met true love.

As far as reversing scripture, not my intention and perhaps I chose vague phrasing. I should have phrased it this way, we can't show love to others(true love of and from God) unless we *know* the love of God. Our loving *response* to a God initiated love is shown by how we love others. I don't deny that at all. We can't give what we haven't received. So very simply, meet God, know love, show love.

All those form's of obedience that you listed are only obedience if in response to God. Otherwise it's just empty sacrifice. Someone can give money to the church because they were ordered to and hate God. Are they giving out of obedience to God? No. GOd could lead me to give $100 and I give $10, is that obedience? No, it's sacrifice, but not obedience. All obedience is sacrifice, but not all sacrifice is obedience and obedience assumes a relationship with God.

But in the end we agree on this, as Christians we must love our neighbors. The only question is how is one able to that.

Ken said...

OK. I definitely want to agree with you. You make a lot of good points. And I think I CAN agree with you, but it depends on what you mean.

When you say "unless we know God we can't know love, because God is love", what exactly do you mean by "know God"? Or when you say "unless we meet Him, we haven't met true love", what do you mean by "meet Him"?

Because if you mean that we can meet God and know God's love by experiencing Him and His love through the actions of others, then I agree with you.

But if you mean that you have to be saved FIRST before you can meet God and know God's love, then we have a difference of opinion. And if you mean that we have to be saved first AND do all those obedient things first before we can meet God and know God's love, then we are REALLY at odds.

See, I'm not talking about an either/or situation. I'm not suggesting we do one thing and forsake another. I'm simply speaking of priorities. Loving others is WAY WAY WAY WAY more important than studying the Bible or tithing.

And I believe there are NO prerequisites to loving others. I'm not very interested in what percentage of people believe they have experienced God's love or not. The fact is that everyone has, whether they attribute it to God or not. God exists IN this world, not apart from it. And He loves this world. So everyone in this world has felt His love (whether they know it or not) and has at least some capacity to love others.

When Jesus came, He called us to take that capacity for love and radicalize it. Don't just love those who love you. Love your enemies... Pray for those who persecute you... Walk two miles, not just one... When sued for your tunic, give your cloak also... Turn the other cheek... Radical love.

And its not just the sermon on the mount. Read John 13-15 again.

John 13:34
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

John 14:15
"If you love me, you will obey what I command.

John 14:21
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

John 14:23
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.

John 15:10
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.

John 15:12
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:17
This is my command: Love each other.

Over and over for three chapters Jesus inextricably ties together the act of loving others and the act of loving Him. Not only linking them, but equating them. If you love one another, you love Him. If you don't love each other, you don't love Him. Over and over. You would think we wouldn't miss that point.

But we HAVE missed it. We have turned the Way of Jesus into an academic exercise. Read the Bible. Listen to a sermon. Sing a song. Say a prayer. Take a class. Join a small group. Read the latest Christian novel. Go on a fast. Tithe every week. Join the deacons. Attend a worship conference. Focus on personal spiritual growth and understanding. 101, 201, 301. Memorize Scripture. Keep a prayer journal... Don't get me wrong, all of that is REALLY good stuff... Just not nearly as good and important as loving people. Paul said that love is the greatest of all, even greater than faith. It was his number one priority. It should be ours too. In fact, it should be EVERYONE'S priority, whether they are Christians or not.

Mark D. Inman said...

Ok I'm a month and a half late on this discussion. Truth be told I'm a lot further behind than that....

This is a good discussion/banter that is WORTH having. So many are apples to oranges as long as we're all eating fruit types of bickering.

Some time ago I tried to spend the day doing J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, Yourself - in that order). Let me tell you what, i'm glad I was the only Judge on that competition! It was nearly over before it started....
So I sort of gave up by noon and relaxed on the whole thing. Then I had a conversation with someone, and as they were talking I thought to myself "What can I learn from this person right now?" To tell you the truth I cant even remember what it was because I spent the rest of the day implementing that thought pattern. I thought more about each person that day than I could remember ever doing before. Over time I have worked with this concept and tried to evolve it and make it more useable.

I mention this in light of this conversation because of the apparent higherarchial (I know that is spelled wrong) breakdown from my initial thinking about JOY. This contrasts from that because I was thinking of others first -Their needs and what they could offer me as a lesson to grow me and distract me from whatever my old attitude would suggest was "Unseable" or"annoying" about this person.

In harmony I don't believe that I could or would do this in my life without the Spirit of God, but I can see how others can easily experience the hand of God without giving a rats rear about Him. With that in mind it is a union much like the trinity, they all seem to work together rather than a distinct higherarchy (sorry spelling), Jesus, others, yourself.

In the last post you wrote a long list of Disciplines that are very Churchy sounding. I have all but abandoned most of those which i used to cling to with childlike dependancy. Not so anymore. The only true disciplines I long to live for include facets of loving others; Take Luke 14:10 "But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.
Or (sorry it's a bit long)

Jeremiah 8:5 Why then have these people turned away?
Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
they refuse to return.

6 I have listened attentively,
but they do not say what is right.
No one repents of his wickedness,
saying, "What have I done?"
Each pursues his own course
like a horse charging into battle.

7 Even the stork in the sky
knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know
the requirements of the LORD.

But we know what he requires. When i listen to others and I hear that they do not take the seat of least importance, that they pursue they're own course, that they do not know the requirements of the Lord....... I wonder- do I sound like this? Often I do and I return to that place in my heart where Jesus first became visible.

Anyhow I am in total agreement that the prime way to Love God is to Love his people. I know that we are all individuals and each one of us will reconcile in our appointed way withing this concept. For me it is to listen and to learn more than I teach and to learn to give in new ways constantly. To praise God for the sacrifice that brings me to this place.

thanks for the convo!

Mark