Loving God Despite Our Conditions

Struggling_Unsplash_MitchellHollander

How much do you love God?

Now, before you reply with the response we’re all tempted to provide on auto-pilot (namely, “a lot”), let’s stop and put a bit more thought into our answers.

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Since I became a Christian, I’ve begun reading through the Bible from cover to cover (it’s been challenging for me to get into the habit of reading daily, but with help from those holding me accountable and God working in my heart to have a greater desire to know Him more, I’m finally making consistent progress). Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading through Deuteronomy, and I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to appreciate this book so much, nor had I thought it would get me thinking as much as it has.

A few weeks ago in my reading I came across these verses in Deuteronomy 6:

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-7

These verses are ones I know well – but often only “know well” in the sense that I’ve heard the words many times over. For many of us, we don’t often seek to love God with our entire being: instead, we seek God when He’s convenient, and our tendency is to give Him “our all” when we’re finally desperate and out of options.

This isn’t what God desires, to be our “go-to” magic genie. No, He yearns for our upmost devotion, hearts that would constantly seek Him above any and every thing. He charges us to take this passage, this call, and teach it to our hearts, reminding them often of this truth. He knows we are imperfect people who will forget, neglect, and select other things to take His place of devotion, and so He charges us to constantly remind ourselves of this command to love Him fully – without reserve or conditions.

Because that’s what our love for Him is so often like in practice, isn’t it?

“You’re such a good God”… when you bless me and meet my needs and desires. 

“You are amazing, God”… when you answer prayers the way I’ve wanted them to be answered. 

“I love you, God”… until you take away the people and things dear to me. 

“You’re all I need, God”… as long as you don’t try to change or take away anything without my consent.

Do we still call God “good” when we don’t see His blessings? Do we still praise Him when we chooses to answer prayers in way that break our hearts? Is He still “all we need” when everything else is ripped away?

Do we still love God then?

The truth is, you won’t always feel like loving God. There will be times throughout your life where, for one reason or another, you will struggle with your desire for Him.

But when you question your affections and are tempted to forsake, ask Him for the strength and grace to keep loving Him without conditions, regardless of your feelings and emotions. Strive to love with the entirety of your being. You can’t love God in the good and despise Him in the bad. It’s all or nothing: you love Him, or you don’t.

There is one “little” problem, though: in our own strength, we never seek or desire God. As the psalmist says:

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” – Psalm 14:2-3 (emphasis mine).

As humans and therefore totally depraved sinners, we don’t naturally want to love God – we hate Him. In and of ourselves, we possess neither the desire nor the ability to seek God. Only God could change us. He is the One who works in our hearts, who causes us to repent from our self-centeredness and rebellion and completely changes our desires. Only He can change our hearts so that we would desire Him. 

Yes, we’ll stumble and fail miserably – as sinners, we will never be able to love God perfectly. However, we don’t need to let this fact prevent us from endeavoring to pursue God passionately. Even when we stray away and fall short, He continues to loves His children unconditionally because of Christ and welcome us back into His tender arms of grace when we repent and turn to Him once more. Even in our faithlessness, He continues to be faithful.

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So, let me ask you again: How much do you love God?

As we contemplate this question, may we pray that God would continually work in our hearts so that we would strive to love Him unconditionally above all else.

 

*Special thanks to Lynnette Westcott for reviewing this post and providing feedback – you are amazing! Photo from Unsplash. Featured article photo by Mitchell Hollander.

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