1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”
With just those seven words, John encapsulates one of the most important and foundational truths in the Christian faith and if we are serious about being fully equipped as Jesus’ disciples, this truth must dominate our thinking, our worldview, our understanding of the gospel and our purpose in the Church. We love because He first loved us. I can only love God in the measure I receive love from God. Receiving the love of God gives me a capacity for love I did not have before. I was designed to be a lover of God. I was designed to love God with everything that I am – every part of my being. The Bible says I’m to love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength. Everything about my spirit man is geared up and ready to love God completely.
Perhaps you’ve heard someone being described as being, ‘so heavily minded, they’re of no earthly good.’ Maybe you have said that of someone. Well, I have to say that’s a really stupid thing to say. It’s also a contradiction because the only way you can be of any earthly good is to be heavenly minded. If I am not heavenly minded, I am missing the whole point of life. I am to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. There’s an emotional capacity to love that must find expression in my relationship with God and that’s a lifetime journey. I never stop to grade myself – I just keep going forward. I’m just loving with all my heart and soul – but also my mind. The intellect is actually at its finest when it considers God. ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ (Psalm 14:1)
We are designed for love and first and foremost that is love for God. We were hard-wired to love God – that’s our design – but the culture around us is trying really hard to erase the whole concept of design. It’s not just sexual orientation and gender that’s under fire – it’s life itself that is being re-defined by our culture. I was born to be loved by God and to love God in return. Now a part of that expression of my love for God must be measurable in my love for others. If I say I love God but don’t demonstrate love towards people, you have every reason to question my love for God because there’s no evidence. In other words, spiritual realities have to be measurable in the natural. Spiritual realities have to manifest or bear fruit in our day to day life on earth.
There has been a war raging now for over a hundred years to remove the concept of a creator. If there’s no creator, then there’s no design – because you can’t have design without a designer. You can’t say the beaver has teeth that were designed in such a way so it could chew through trees. You cannot say design if there’s no designer. There’s no such thing as random design. Design has to be intentional – it has to have a designer. So if I remove the key concept of a creator, a designer; if there’s no design, there’s no purpose. If there’s no purpose, there’s no destiny. If there’s no destiny, there’s no accountability. This war in our culture is trying to undermine the absolute necessity of wisdom because giving an account of my life is at the very heart of true biblical wisdom. I will stand before God one day and give an account. So once that truth is erased from the consciousness of humanity then things become frightening. Everything is random and driven by self-absorption, self-protection and self-promotion.
I have been created and designed to love God with all my heart, soul and mind. But I am also designed to love God with all my strength. This not our physical strength. I doubt it means you sing worship songs while you lift weights. This is talking about loving God with our whole body. Let me just read the first two verses of Psalm 84.
Psalm 84:1-2 “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
My heart and my flesh, that is my whole body cries out for God. We know what physical appetites are. We know what it is to be thirsty. We know what it is to hunger for food. Well it’s actually possible to spend time in the glorious presence of God where your body becomes recalibrated to hunger for what it was born for: God Himself.
Every person on this planet was actually designed by God – for God. That means every part of us – our mind; our emotions; our will; our physical body; our gifts and talents – everything was designed by God, for God. In our encounter of loving God and receiving love from God, the perfection of our design is revealed. When every part of me burns for God – then I am at my best. This is what the Apostle Paul was trying to explain in Ephesians 3:19 when he exhorted us, “… to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” To know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge; to know what is beyond knowing. Or to put it another way, we are to know by experience what is beyond our comprehension.
It’s tragic but true that our modern culture and lifestyle makes it impossible for us to fully embrace the love of God. We are just too busy and as I have said before, busyness is artificial significance. Busyness insulates us from being still enough to be loved. I don’t mean God doesn’t love you when you’re busy – God’s love is constant and immeasurable. But when your life is so full – crammed pack with activities – you can’t discover, experience or embrace the full dimension of God’s love. If ever there was a verse for our generation it has to be Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Stillness is something our whole culture seems to despise and yet it is one of the most important skills to learn.