A while back I was listening to worship music. One of the songs I listened to that day was listing several reasons “why” the songwriter loved God. This is very typical in a worship song, but for some reason on this day something struck me. It was something that I had never thought of before. I felt as though God was saying “why do YOU love me?” Why do I love God? This question began to plague me. It honestly kept me occupied for a few weeks. Why do I love God? It’s not a question I had ever been asked, and now I felt as though God was asking me. Talk about humbling!
Before I go any further I would like to ask you, why do you love God. Take a minute to allow the question to set in. Put some thought into it. I’ll warn you it’s a loaded question, but let’s roll with it.
As I was pondering this the question deepened. Why do I love at all??? I seriously lost sleep because of this. I was dealing with a deeper question than I maybe ever had up to that point.
I’ve learned that sometimes growth in faith happens when we wrestle with God. Just like Jacob wrestling with God I had decided to stick this question out until I received a blessing. Why do I love? By this point you may be thinking this is an easy question to answer. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 john 4:19) I went to that verse as well, but I gained a new understanding that day. This verse explains HOW we love not WHY. We love because he first loved us. We are able to love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:7 says: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” LOVE COMES FROM GOD. As I was reading these things it became abundantly clear that the HOW is because God loves us, the HOW is through Him and Him alone. John makes it abundantly clear that God is the source of love. He is the HOW we love.
The ability to love is a gift, there is no reason to it it’s just a gift from God. God pours his love onto us and that love becomes the fuel for the new creation we are to become. God calls us to be like him. He wants us to be ACCURATE image bearers for him. At the fall things stop being accurate and Paul refers to this new way of life as “looking through a cloudy mirror” As a result of sin we have blurred the image. It’s still there but it’s blurry. But I think the bible clearly points out that that is not an excuse! 1 john 4:12 says “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” WHOAH!!! Sit on that for a minute. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us And his love is made complete in us “no one has ever seen God”….we don’t have visible confirmation he’s there… we don’t have eye to eye contact… I believe we have something more tangible than even that.
“But if we love one another” The Greek word for LOVE used here is “Agapao” which means- to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly. This word for love is a love that requires interaction. The original Greek here is saying that if we live in community and LOVE one another…. Welcoming and entertaining…. Those are communal words! You can’t welcome and entertain without interaction. We haven’t received visible confirmation but if we welcome, entertain, love dearly one another then… “God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”!!! The New American Standard Version words it this way: No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. Abide- does not leave…. God does not leave us. His love is perfected in us! This is prefaced by our love for each other… a love that is not merely verbalized but tangibly expressed to one another in community, then the reward we receive from that is the presence of God abiding… dwelling in us, and his love that was smeared like a cloudy mirror is now being perfected in us! 1 john 4:16-17 says: “and so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” “In this world we are like Jesus” In this world we are the unstained image of Jesus… We have been made like Jesus! Are we allowing ourselves to fully experience the love of God? Are we allowing his love to be perfected in us? Are we allowing him to abide in us? Are we experiencing community with believers AND God? Or are we trying to do the comfortable thing and keep others at a distance?
John makes it clear, that to experience the perfected love of God we must fully experience what it is to love others. I believe that the best gifts that we can receive are ones that we can share with others. Gifts that go on a shelf aren’t much a gift. The ability to love is a gift, a gift to be shared with whoever will accept it. True love requires sacrifice. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only son” John 3:16 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 All of those verses show that love is not cheap. Love that is not made up with word but of action. Love that is backed by sacrifice. This is the kind of love that comes from God! The earthly forms of “love” are focused inwards but the truest, and only real, form of love is focused outwards. Earthly love looks to how the object of “love” makes you feel… Heavenly love does the exact opposite and looks to how the object of love feels.
When we go back to the original question “WHY do we love?” it becomes a bit more difficult now. It’s a bit more tricky. Why do I eat Mexican food? Because it tastes good Why do I drive my car to Dallas? It’s a long walk. The “why” to those questions is easy. But when we get to love it becomes more complicated. And it begins to cheapen things. Why do I love my kids? Because they are adorable. Because the way they hug me and tell me they love me makes me feel invincible. Why do I love my wife? Because she is beautiful. Because she is the perfect gift from God to me. Because she loves me in a way that can only come from the father. Why do I love the youth kids? Because they are going to be the source of my grey hair… I love the Lighthouse! When we put a “why” on love we cheapen it. It becomes because that person makes me feel this way. It becomes a self-seeking thing. 1 Corinthians 13 says “love is not self-seeking” To love because we receive a benefit isn’t love at all, it’s appreciation. The truth is, I can’t tell you why I love my wife or kids… I can only tell you that I appreciate them on a level that is beyond comprehension and that I love them in a manner that is fully self-sacrificing. There is no “why” in the love that I have for them. To say that I love my wife because she’s beautiful is cheap and superficial. I would die for her. There is no benefit in me dying… only sacrifice. True love requires sacrifice not gratification. DO NOT CHEAPEN LOVE WITH “WHY”!!! “Why” does not exist in love. I have come to a point where I can fully explain the “how” and it’s simple… because he first loved me. And I can explain the “why” … because… it’s that simple, just because. I’m fine with not being able to go any deeper than that.
If love comes from God and God is love then I fully believe that there are aspects of love that I should never understand. I take comfort in a God that is bigger than my comprehension. As I’m laying in bed I can safely look at the question from God of “Why do you love me?” and respond with “because” and then curl up in his arms and sleep like a newborn in his fathers arms. My God loves me. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8 Please do not cheapen love. Do not look for a reason “why” you love. Understand that the only thing that matters is, “how” you love! Now go back to the original reason that you love God. Reevaluate it. Have you simply been appreciating God? Have you been appreciating the good things he does for you all the while keeping sacrifice at a distance? Have you been too afraid to fully love God? Have you been too focused on the “why’s” which keeps our relationship with God superficial rather than being immersed in the “how” which makes our relationship to God intimate and personal. “We love because he first loved us” 1 Corinthians 13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.