"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37 How many times have I read that and thought, "Ok. I believe in Him and I tell Him I love Him pretty regularly" Done and done. (Sarcasm.)
But can you hear in the words of Jesus that loving God should be our everything? What does this mean? How can I demonstrate that I love God? What pleases Him? How can my life be one that is constantly bringing Him joy?
I am beginning to think that this can only happen in community: looking after others, extending a hand (or grace) when needed, encouraging one another to keep going, etc. When we defer to others, when we act to meet their needs above our own, we live in a radically different way than the world.
This morning as drink a cappuccino and munch on a hippie cookie at Dena's Bistro (Clay and Broadway) preparing for tonight's small group I am being set free reading I John 3:16-20:
"This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God! We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God's command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us."
God is so good. And I mean really, really really good.