Love me. That’s an Order! Imagine the reaction most dates would have to this! “YOU are ORDERing me to LOVE you!?” Probably may want to wait a few days to ask for a second date?
Yet that is exactly what our God says to us in Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one. Love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Pretty sure of Himself, don’t you think? Well, actually yes. And it is that surety on which all our faith relies.
The only way a man (or woman) could tell another person, “You have to love me with all your heart,” is if he knew he was the very best that she could find. But no man knows this for certain. There could be someone out there living in Timbuktu who would be a better match, a better spouse, a better lover, friend, confidante, and soul mate than him. Thus, it would be very foolhardy for any guy to give this kind of command to a woman (and vice versa).
So human love is usually based on mutual conditions. An attraction is felt, usually to physical appearance, financial security, emotional support or some other benefit that the lover can receive, and the decision is made to love the one who is attractive in one way or another. The whole concept of love to most Americans is a shallow attraction to benefits the lover can receive by loving his/her partner.
God’s love is far better than this. He did not demand that we clean up our acts, get our lives in order, straighten out our finances, or even make our beds, before loving us unconditionally. He loves when there is nothing we can do, add to or give in return. We are totally and completely the beneficiaries of a love that is “greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.” He loves us so much that if there was anyone or anything better for us than Himself, He would not hesitate to send us to that one for love. He would command, “Yahweh is one; love that other One with all your heart and with all your soul . . .”
There’s the catch. There is simply no one better for us than The God Who Is There and He knows this. In fact there is nothing He does not know. (See June 17, 2018.) So when He commands us to love Him, it is not a selfish demand such as a man saying this to a woman would be making. Even His command to love Him is based on His desire for what is good for us, and He knows He is simply the best there is.
We do not need to be afraid of His love. This may seem redundant, but really it is not. Though perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), too many have heard promises of love only to be disappointed when the lover failed or cheated or deceived. When someone hears that God loves her, her heart may go back to previous promises of love, and say, “Not again. He said he loved me and look what happened.” Broken promises cover our lives like peanut shells on the floor of a Logan’s Steakhouse.
When we hear that God loves us, our natural suspicion is that there must be a catch. Yeah, He “loves us” but only if we do nice things; only if we don’t cuss or lust or get mad. “You don’t know me like I do, and if you did, YOU would not love me, so why would a God who you say DOES know everything about me? EVERYTHING? He even knows what I THINK!? How could He love ME!?”
Very simply because that is what He does. He loves. So much so that John said, “God IS love!” (1 John 4:8) It is part of His very character and nature to look for who and what He can shower with love, and when He runs out of angels to love, He creates humans so that His love can have another outlet. That is why you were born, so that He could love you. That is why you are reading this blog, so that you can discover more of His love. If you will risk letting Him love you and love Him in return, you will find that everything that has happened in your life will bear the marks of His love. Even the terrible things that made you wonder at the time if there even was a God. He will redeem, that is “repurchase,” those events and show that He was loving you even then.
But if you will not risk letting Him love you like that, you take the greater risk of not being loved at all, and of not loving at all. C.S.Lewis, in The Four Loves, summed it up like this:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Allow the Holy Spirit to open your heart to a love that is almost unbelievable. In fact, it would be unbelievable if not for the evidence of Jesus. He loves as no other and look what happened to Him! But loving us was worth it, because YOU are worth it. So love Him in return. That’s an order.