Do I Truly Love God?
One of the things I personally struggled with most when I was getting to know God was this question: Do I truly love God?
As a Christian, the answer to this question is vital.
How vital, you ask?
In 1 Corinthians 16:22 it says: “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed…” (ESV).
Another perspective is this.
Believing in God is not enough. The Bible says that “even the demons believe [in a one true God]…” (James 2:19 ESV).
A third perspective, and possibly the most important, is the fact that our entire faith is built around the idea of a relationship with God.
Christ came to the world to save us from our sins in order to restore us to a relationship with God that we might accept His love and love Him back.
Jesus did not come down because sin was tough and making good people into bad people.
He came down because the sin in our lives separated us from God, keeping us from a relationship with Him.
It was not about fixing the world in that moment, but restoring the relationship. Which, inevitably, will eventually lead to the restoration of this world.
The entire Gospel is God reaching down to restore us to a love relationship with Him and if we miss that, what is the point of following the rules of Christianity?
So, I hope I’ve convinced you of the importance of loving God. If not, read your Bible.
This realization usually brings up one of three questions: Do I truly love God? How can I tell if I truly love God? What does it look like to love God?
These are all fairly similar questions with a common root: Am I loving God enough?
A very common stance on how it looks to love God is the image of a person on fire for God every second of every day. Someone who always has “the fire” in their chest and lives on the feeling you get after attending a Hillsong concert.
I don’t know about you, but just thinking about that makes me want to take a nap. It’s tiring and unrealistic.
In fact, if you hold that as your idea of how to love God, you are going to disappoint yourself.
How do I know this?
Maybe one day, in Heaven, it will look like that. I don’t claim to know anything about how that will look. But I do know that here on earth, that is not how it works. Even for the most God-loving people you know, that is not how it looks. Ask them.
I mean just think. Do you love your spouse that way? Or your children, parents, or friends?
No. And if you said yes, you’re probably lying.
Don’t be ashamed! Love isn’t made to look that way.
I like to use the analogy of a fire. Yes, love is a fire. So original, I know, but stick with me.
If you try to build a fire on only lighter fluid and quick-burning, dry wood, you are going to have a pretty amazing, epic fire for all of five minutes.
Then it’s gone, because there wasn’t any real substance to that fire. There were no good logs.
However, if you carefully build a place for your fire to burn. Pick the best, long-lasting logs around. Pick the right kindling, and carefully build it so it can breathe. Well then with some time and effort you have a well burning, warm, long-lasting fire.
And sure, you can throw lighter fluid on there to get it burning, or to have some fun sometimes. Once the lighter fluid is gone, though, the fire is still burning full and warm. Steady.
Sometimes some sap from one of the logs pops and there is a moment of fireworks. They’re fun, but even when they are gone, the fire is still burning full and warm. Steady.
And, yes, you have to watch it and put a new log on everyone once and a while. However, if you put effort into it and spend time nurturing and tending it, it burns full and warm. That’s right: steady.
Now which fire do you want?
Sure, the first one sounds fun, but it doesn’t last.
Back in Middle School, when you invited that kid to your church winter retreat and they accepted Christ that weekend, but a few days later were back off the path. That was the first fire. It was great and big, but when it got cold and the wind blew against it, the fire was built on things not lasting and it went out.
The second one does last. Plus, you can have just as much fun sometimes, throwing lighter fluid on it for special occasions.
This is the one God wants from us. This is the kind of love He desires.
It’s not fancy. It’s not a show. It’s simply pure, strong, and lasting. Built on things that last even through the hard times.
It’s a love built on time and relationship. A commitment. Not without its fun. But, not only about the fun.
Probably sounds familiar to some of you. It’s much like a marriage.
In fact, it is very much like one. We, the Church, are the bride of Christ.
So, how does this look in real life?
It looks like quality time with God. Reading your Bible. Prayer. Conversations.
It looks like commitment. Belief in God and His love even through the dry seasons of our life.
It looks like giving of yourself and your desires for the betterment of His Kingdom.
It does not look like one continual “God-high”.
Sometimes you may even feel like you aren’t fully in love all the time with Him, but don’t freak out. This just means you are probably not putting in as much intention into the relationship as you need to be. Not that you don’t love God, but that you got busy and slacked a little. Don’t worry. He’s patient.
There will be those highs some days and they’re great! Enjoy them when they come, but don’t live only for those. God can offer so much more in even our normal day-to-day lives.
If you are living for the highs of loving God, you are going to miss life. You are going to miss the quiet comfort of His love and the ways He loves you in the small day-to-day things.
So how do I know that I truly love God?
I know, because my aim is to have Him as the center of every part of my life. For Him to be my reason for living and my reason for working and serving others.
I have built my relationship with Him and my love for Him on the foundations of the truth about who He is and who I am because of Him. These are logs that will never burn out.
And you don’t give someone that spot in your life unless you truly love them.
I have faith that this love is enough, and God honors that.
It is hard work. Any relationship is.
However, it is so worth it. While life is not all sunshine and roses, I have felt more joy and peace then I ever have since coming to this conclusion and I hope you will too.
It is a process, and we don’t get it right over night, but learning to love God in a steady, true way is vital to our relationship with Him.
Once you do come to love Him in that way, you’ll know that you know that you love Him and nothing will be able to take that from you.
Author: Natalie Martin - Staff