“And [Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and will all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39
There are a lot of things in this world that I love. I love my family; I love watching Kobe highlights; I love swiss cake rolls; I love hot coffee; I love my job; I love listening to music; I love hanging out with friends; I love my girlfriend; I love driving at night; I love lake days… I think you get the picture.
However, it is crucial to understand that the love Jesus is talking about in Matthew 22 is quite different from the love that I hinted at above. Jesus desires that our love for Him be more than a feeling; more than just a word to express our gratitude or satisfaction with a specific thing; more than just an emotional experience. After all, Jesus said that we are to love God with all that we are and that we are to love others as we love ourselves (ouch…). So, as much as I love swiss cake rolls and watching Kobe highlights, Jesus is due a more honorable love– a love that is a lifestyle, a love that is an act of worship; and in response, genuinely love others. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us”. If we are followers of Jesus, then the love of Jesus is something that has eternally impacted our lives; therefore, we can now practice what it means to love others.
On loving God and loving others, my Bible’s commentary excellently puts it this way: “The kingdom life that Jesus initiated–summarized in these two commandments– fulfills the deepest longings of human beings created in the image of God to display his glory.” Meaning, that if we are going to be followers of Jesus and truly seek to proclaim and display the glory of God, then we must be willing to love God and love others. This is the life that Jesus so willingly put on display. He humbled Himself to the will of God, demonstrating His love for the Father in obedience, while unconditionally loving each and every person He came in contact with, ultimately showing the greatest form of love by giving up His life. He tells His followers in John 15:12-13, ” This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love as no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
So often, this is much easier said than done. People can be hard to love sometimes. It’s even more difficult to love someone the way Jesus wants us to when we are not first loving God and seeking to make much of who He is.
My hope and prayer for myself, and for every other follower of Jesus, is that we would first genuinely and wholeheartedly love God with all that we are; and as a result, love people the way Jesus does. Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
As much as we may love college football, making money, spending time with family and friends, going to the movies, shopping, (fill in anything), may we love Jesus all the more with a worship-filled love that becomes a part of who we are, not just an emotional feeling or experience.
Love God. Love others.