Just for a moment, let’s brainstorm- what are all the songs you can think of with the word love in them?
Love is such a huge topic and when you think about God’s love it almost makes the topic seem unfathomable or unwieldy- When you consider the command that Jesus gives us- Love God with all your heart and mind and soul- this is a pretty tall order!
We have talked a lot about the scripture we have from Matthew this morning- the greatest commandment- to love God and love your neighbor- this morning; our “be the Church” series is asking us to focus on the phrase “love God”.
How do we love God?
Our personal relationships with God can be pretty complicated. Many of us waiver in our belief in God, some of us go through periods where we are angry at God. Most of us, at one point in our lives wrestle with the question “Where is God?” when calamity strikes or when a natural disaster occurs. Now, I do not subscribe to the theology that contends God causes these events or that something people have done has caused these terrible things to occur. I do very much believe that God’s heart breaks when our hearts break, that God cries with us when we cry.
As complicated as that relationship can be, as messy as we make it, sharing love with each other is, in fact, sharing God’s love and showing we love God.
You may remember that we have unpacked the different words The Bible has for love:
-The first, “agape” is the giving, caring, and sharing that happens when you let God into your life.
-The second, “phila,” refers to the brotherly love that exists between Jesus and his disciples.
-The third is “Eros” which means “passion” or that which really drives you to do something.
Agape, the love of God is an entirely different kind of love than the others. According to some Christian scholars, agape “can change your life and set you free. Agape love is the decision to consider the needs of others before your own…to give without demanding in return…but most of all Agape is a decision to receive and respond to God’s love.”
Agape love-the love of God-can change your life and set you free…
But how? How does the love of God change your life and set you free? What do we need to be set free from? How do we live into this? These are difficult questions!
This is where the prophet Micah comes in- the prophet says that we do not need to show God our love by leaving sacrificial offerings but by doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God
When we do justice we are set free from the bonds of injustice and we show God that we love God by working to see that all have what they need
When we love kindness we are embracing compassion, mercy and grace. We are set free from the bonds of fear anger and hatred. WE show God that we love God by sharing kindness and compassion, mercy and grace with every one we meet.
When we walk humbly with our God, we not only embrace humility but we let go of vanity and pride. We love God by living simply, honestly and authentically. Jesus spends a lot of time talking about this in his teachings when he instructs the disciples about being a servant. He shows the disciples humility when he washes their feet. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches about the last becoming first and the meek inheriting the earth- these are all teachings about walking humbly with our God. We show God our love by living humbly- serving others- finding ways to walk with the last and the least.
The notion of loving God is complex. It is true, however, that each and every one of us has the great potential for giving and receiving God’s love, agape, and in doing so we also become who we are truly meant to be- a beloved child of God.
As the poet David Whyte said, “In the end we are measured not by the things we did but by the things we loved”.