I was taught at an early age that God is love. I was reminded often that love conquers all and that the golden rule is to love your neighbor as your self. To be a good Christian I must love God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind.
But what exactly is love? I can mostly understand it through my standards, but what is love by God’s standards?
Human standards looks at love as a feeling that extends into an action. For example, I might love someone because I feel like it or even because I think it is the right thing to feel. I can withhold love when I feel wronged. If someone murdered my child I would feel justified in NOT loving that person. I would feel justified to take action and have them put in jail.
The reality is, love is not a feeling or even a state of mind. It’s something far greater than that. God IS love (1 John 4:8 & 16). For me to comprehend love, even just a little, I need to plug into the Source of love and try to understand it through the Source’s perspective.
Love, as I understand it in human terms, is only one side of a very heavy coin. Love in godly terms is scary and often crushing.
Love is death. The death of His only son.
Love is judgement. The judgement of sinners.
Love is hell. The sending of those sinners to a place they deserve.
Love is slaughter. The complete slaughter of entire nations to include men, women, and children, and even all of the animals. The First Covenant (Old Testament) scriptures show this clearly in the flood and also in the Israelites obedience (and disobedience) in following God’s orders to slaughter entire nations.
It’s a hard pill to swallow reading those scriptures at times, but God never changes. Ever. He’s the same today as He was back then. And God is Love!
So how do we reconcile this? I believe it is a simple misunderstand of a small but weighty word. Love. God loved me even though I hated Him. I murdered His Son and yet He gave me mercy and grace.
As a human, I probably won’t be able to fully comprehend the full truth of love, but one thing I now understand is that love is not a feeling, it’s an act of obedience. I obey God’s commands even if I don’t understand or even agree with them.
Love is not a feeling, it’s a decision. I love others even if they don’t deserve it. I love my husband even if he says something inconsiderate or mean. I love my friends when they slight me. I love those who hate me. That is the difficult human act of obedience to God.
God is love. He is the source. A light bulb is only able to shine brightly when it is plugged into the source of electricity. I’m only able to love through the hard things and the muck of life when I’m plugged into the Source of love.
What exactly does that look like? For me, love through obedience by plugging in means reading the Bible even when I don’t feel like it. Sitting for a longer time in prayer even when I’m distracted and way too busy.
Love through obedience is giving God the first fruits of my time in the morning by waking up a little earlier than my family even when all I want to do is sleep just a little longer. It means going to bed before the party ends because I have a date with the Source the next morning.
Love through obedience means tuning my instrument before the symphony of the day and then micro tuning it during the performance and cleaning it out after the finale.
In clear terms, I pray in the morning with praise and thanksgiving with hope for the day ahead. I read His Word to give me direction, correction, clarity, and strength. I micro tune throughout the day by training my thoughts to be always in conversation with Jesus. At night before bed I go over all the areas where I missed a note or could have done better and I ask for forgiveness.
I’d like to share what spiritual micro tuning looks like. Tuning an instrument is an ongoing thing. I wish we could set it and forget it, but in reality we need to micro adjust small things on an instrument often, even during a performance. It’s the same with God. Micro tuning is what abiding in Him is all about.
He desires my obedience and smiles at me when I abide in Him. I can only abide in Him if I am with Him. It can be easy to check the box of prayer and Bible reading in the morning and then go about my day, but that’s not what abiding looks like.
The Greek word for abide is “meno” which means to remain, dwell, endure, and continue. It takes practice. Here’s some examples from my daily walk.
As I’m on the phone with a friend who is hurting, my mind abides in prayer, “Lord give me wisdom to listen well and speak through me if words are needed.”
As I’m interacting with an employee at a store who’s giving me poor customer service, my mind abides in prayer, “Jesus work in their life today. Bless them and show them who You are. Give them Your peace.”
As I’m getting frustrated with someone close to me that is hurting me, my mind abides in prayer, “Lord give me patience and help me honor You in this relationship. Help me to be Your witness rather than demand my way.”
Love, while incredible, is not easy. I commit to loving the way God desires me to through obedience. I commit to seeing His truth and not my own. May today be a blessing to you as you work through your desire to live well and obey God well.