Continued from Loving God, Part 1
October 26, 2011
Have you ever looked for an “I love you,” statement to the Lord in the Scriptures? There are scores of Biblical characters that clearly loved the Lord. How many times do you think an “I love you,” statement is recorded in the Scriptures? Only once. King David in Psalm 18:1. David says, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” Surprised?
David, a man after God’s own heart, undeniably a lover of the Lord, only recorded an ‘I love you’ statement one time. I’m not suggesting at all that we stop using these words in our worship to the Lord, but this discovery led me to believe that there is a whole lot more we ought to be doing. How offensive and hollow “I love you,” sounds when not backed with loving actions. In the same way that faith without works is dead, I think proclamation without demonstration is empty and quite frankly, insulting to God. It’s almost as if there is a righteous ‘fear of the Lord’ that cautions us to carefully say the words, I love you, to him. Folks, it is the demonstration of love that is indeed loving God. Our words alone just don’t cut it. The disciple John, says it this way.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 ESV)
Back when Gary taught on John 14, I wrote a 3rd verse for the chorus, I Love You, Lord. I wanted a way to express my love for God through my desire to obey his commands. Dancer, Claire Peister, added some simple movement and we have used it in a few of our worship services since. It goes like this:
I love you Lord, so I will obey
And follow you as I live each day
Take joy my King, in this offering
May my life be the love song I sing
Getting back to the upper room dialogue, I want to think about the flow of thought. Why did Jesus bring up this topic of our love for him at this moment in his final teaching to his disciples? What commandments is he specifically referring to?
The first two questions are related. Jesus has just given the disciples a New Commandment. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35 ESV) Not long afterward, maybe within 5 to 10 minutes if his speaking was uninterrupted, he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15–16 ESV) While this statement encompasses all of his commandments, don’t you think the first one to pop into their mind is this new one? In fact, in the flow of the passage, Jesus comes back to this new commandment over and over again. The disciples got it! About fifty years later, John summarizes it like this: “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20–21 ESV)
Loving God and loving each other are inseparable. I see a healthy expression of love for one another at Trinity Church, but it’s certainly an area where we can excel still more. I’d like to see more hospitality. Invite one another into your homes, into your lives. I’d like to see more spontaneous prayer, praising the Lord for his blessings and bearing each other’s burdens this way. I’d like to see more love that reaches out for people who are not a part of this community right now, and perhaps not even a part of God’s family. God has given us common interests that can be a bridge not only for friendship, but more so for people to become worshipers & followers of our Lord, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Like Paul charged the believers in the Thessalonian church, I charge you. “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1 NASB)
To be continued…