Christians must Love the Lord our God - James C. Bell

How does one "love" God?

It is through our faith and belief in Him and by trusting in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Until the good news of Jesus Christ exploded in the world, the word "love" was understood mostly in terms of seeking its own advantage. There was love of one's family, spouse and children throughout the history of man. There was love of material things and love of things one enjoyed doing: sports, hunting and fishing, the arts, etc.

But until God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, loving the unlovely was incomprehensible. A loving God reaching down to sinful man was just unthinkable in the pagan world.

When Jesus began His ministry, His teaching was revolutionary. Matthew 4:17 says: "From that time Jesus began to preach, He would say, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

As He selected His disciples, He told them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." The teaching of Jesus Christ was radically different, for He not only spoke with great authority, but was able to heal the sick, the crippled, and cause the blind to see again. His main message was about love, the love of God and the love of man.

Never before had such a man lived. He was greater than all the prophets, kings and rulers who had lived before Him.

The New Testament writers had to coin a new word for love, "Agape," to express what God wanted to reveal about Himself in Christ. He also wanted then, and wants today, to show Christians how to love and relate to each other.

This new love was revealed and demonstrated on the Cross of Calvary. Agape would now be the "more excellent way" as Paul said in 1st Corinthians 12:31, and expressed so eloquently in chapter 13, known as the love chapter. Please read it for yourself.

Agape is a selfless concern for the welfare of others that is not called forth by any quality of loveableness in the person loved. It is the product of a will to love in obedience to God's command. It is like Christ's love manifested on the cross. Jesus has said: "A new commandment I give unto you-as I have loved you that you also love one another," and "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

Agape is not mere sentiment or dormant, and is powerless. It is dynamic only when it actively loves God, as He loved us, when it is unconstrained, loving brothers, sisters, neighbors and the world for which Christ died.

On the human plane, as the divine, love says: "I respect you, I care for you, I am responsible for you. I respect you and I see you are a unique individual. I accept you and will not exploit you for my own benefits and desires. I will attempt to know you as well as I can. I care for you and it matters to me what happens to you. I am responsible for you, I will respond to you and your spiritual needs. I will pray for you and correct you in love. I will find no pleasure in your weakness or failures. By God's grace, I will be patient and will not fail you."*

We understand God's love only as we respond to it in Christ. "God is love. This is how God showed His love among us; He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us" (1st John 4:8-10).

God loves you! Will you respond to Him by placing your faith and trust in Him through Jesus Christ? I pray you will. Amen.

* The Billy Graham Christian worker's handbook