Loving God with all your being

The apostle John said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16, NIV).  This love is in turn asked of Christians when Jesus replies to a question asked by an expert in the law saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” (Matthew 22:37, NIV, cf. Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27).  Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands,” (John 14:15, NIV), and “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” (John 15:13, NIV, cf. 15:10).  Jesus also contrasted the love for God or money by saying, “No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money,” (Matthew 6:24, NIV).  Jesus likewise said, “Whoever serves me must follow me;  and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me,” (John 12:26, NIV).  In comparison, Jesus also said, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations,” (Matthew 12:18, NIV) and “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.  The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them,” (John 14:21, NIV).  After Jesus’ resurrection, He asked Peter whether He loved Him (John 21:15-17), and through this, Peter’s ability to lead Jesus’ followers would be possible.  When followers of Jesus love Him and God with all of their heart, mind, soul and body, this act of reciprocating love towards Him would inevitably result in desire to be obedient to all of the commandments throughout the Biblical material.  The believer will want to obey because he loves God with all his being.

“It is plausible to assume that the controversy between the Pharisees and Jesus in the Gospel reflects at least some of the tension between the Matthean community and the Pharisees, and the heirs they had contact with in their days and society.”[1]  Obviously there was a disconnect between the teachers of the law and the rest of the community in which Jesus’ ministry had been, and in this He summed up their entirety of the law was based on two commandments quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.  Because the Pharisees had forgotten about their love towards God, their teachings had become skewed to compensate for their own interests (Matthew 23; Luke 11) and were not following God’s commands.  But God is requiring us to love Him with all of our being.   “The greatest commandment and the other greatest commandment call God’s people to loving obedience and obedient loving.”[2]  The love we have for God will result in our desire to obey Him.  Granted we aren’t perfect, and “Luther understood the commandment to love God ‘with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37) as requiring the whole dedication of a person to God with all aspects of her being.”[3]  If we don’t love God with all of our being, it can be difficult to “want” to be obedient to Him.  “Loving God implied attachment to God and behaviour that would honour him within this reciprocal relationship.  Love implies the fulfilment of required obligations within such a relationship.”[4]  Our obedience to God’s commands is fundamentally connected with our love for Him, and doing so in partialities, will only result in failure.  “One cannot love God with some of one’s faculties, whilst excluding others.”[5]  The essentiality of our love for Him in our whole being is the key to a strikingly perfect obedience God desires.  “A person, who loves God with his or her entire mind, would also obey all the commandments he has given.”[6]

For all believers in Jesus, loving God is the first and foremost greatest commandment.  It is the fundamental root in which all other facets of the faith follow from.  In doing so, because of God’s insurmountable love for the world by offering His Son on Calvary, the people who believe in Him can emulate this love which has been graciously bestowed upon them by reciprocating it back towards Him, including those around them, which could inevitably result in a person’s desire to know and love God.  The love that people have for God is an example of the love God has for everyone, wherein He gave His only Son up for a sacrifice for all sin, so that the bridge between God and man could be reconciled.  The desire to know and love God will carry on in their sanctifying walk, and will be able to portray not only the love God has for His people, but for the entire world as well.  God is pursuing us with His love, and our love in return to Him, will only show others a true peace that can only be obtained by belief.  Jesus said, “and whoever lives by believing in me will never die,” (John 11:26a, NIV).

 

[1] Viljoen, Francois P. “The Double Love Commandment/Die Dubbele Liefdesgebod.” In Die Skriflig 49, no. 1 (2015): 2, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1757282207?accountid=12085.

[2] DeWolfe, Laurence. “The greatest commandment: to obey is to love. To love is to obey.” Presbyterian Record, Oct. 2011, p. 23+. General OneFile, ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA272616846&it=r&asid=bde3701ecf4b58277681ed7a4b06543c. Accessed 12 Nov. 2016.

[3]Dieter, Theodor. 2013. “The Early Luther and his Theological Development.” Ecclesiology 9, no. 2: 256. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 12, 2016).

[4] Viljoen, Francois P. “The Double Love Commandment/Die Dubbele Liefdesgebod.” In Die Skriflig 49, no. 1 (2015): 6, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1757282207?accountid=12085.

[5] Ibid., 6.

[6] Ibid., 7.