“Pull up a chair, Jesus!” I told Him one Friday night as I sat down at a table at my favorite Starbucks. When I was in high school, I started having “Date Nights With Jesus”. I would take my Bible, journal, cup of coffee, and an open heart to a table and ask Jesus to sit next to me as I read through His Word. I’m a visual person, so I would literally pull up a chair and picture Him sitting a foot away from me. There were a few awkward times, though, when someone actually sat on Him! I couldn’t really explain like, “Um, excuse me sir, this seat is taken. You just sat on Jesus,” without looking like I had completely lost it. So, I would just give them a wide-eyed sideways look. It was in these times, though, just me and the Lord, that I began to fall more and more in love with the author of the Bible. The more we talked, the more in awe I became of His great love for us, and the greater my love for Him became.
So how does God call us to love Him? Let’s look at Jesus’ explanation of love to us in Luke 10:25-37. It starts out with a lawyer, an expert in the Old Testament (OT) law, trying to test Jesus and His views about how to inherit eternal life. But Jesus, being the amazing teacher that He is, sees this as an opportunity to allow the lawyer to think (gasp!) by responding to his question with yet another question. He asks this religious scholar, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” The lawyer responds with a combination of two of the great OT texts (he is a well-versed Jew): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind (Deut. 6:5); and your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18).” Jesus responds, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” To our by-the-book lawyer friend, keeping this command must have seemed like a really daunting task. And yes, by our own power and human ability, this simply is an impossible command. But through Jesus’s grace and the Holy Spirit, we can be empowered to love God in every aspect of our being. Lets break this passage down a bit.
Love God with All of Your Heart
Have you ever committed to something halfway? You weren’t necessarily passionate about it. Maybe you just went through the motions but your “heart just wasn’t in it”?
For God, it is not enough for us to show outward obedience or just to go through the motions. He wants our hearts to be invested in our relationship with Him. God longs for our affections. He longs to know and be a part of our passions, feelings, and desires. God wants everything that we do for Him to be rooted in love, not religion. He tells us in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Love God with All of Your Soul
Our soul is what makes us so different from any other living creature God created. It is eternal. It is what makes us a human being. God desires us to honor Him with our soul by having complete trust in Jesus with our eternal salvation.
Have you ever experienced a trust fall before? Sometimes it is really hard to muster up the courage to trust someone to catch you, but when you finally put your faith in that person and you realize that they aren’t going to let you fall, it is a freeing feeling. Our faith in Jesus to be our safety net gives our soul security, hope, and purpose. How we react to challenges, how we use our talents, and how we interact with others should be an indication to the world that our soul belongs to God.
Love God with All of Your Strength
My husband and I were talking the other day about Kobe Bryant. He retired from the NBA by scoring 60 points in his last game. I thought to myself, “Wow, that takes so much skill and physical strength. He must have left every ounce of ability he had on the floor.”
We can take notes from this mentality. With everything we have to offer God, we need to be utilizing it to advance the Kingdom. Our time, money, career paths, the way we dress, cell phones, social media – all of these things should be used for God’s glory. None of our resources should be off limits. Leave everything you have to offer Jesus on the floor.
Love God with All of Your Mind
I love this quote by A.W. Tozer in his book Knowledge of the Holy: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Our minds, which include our thoughts and beliefs, are an integral part to how we love God. If our perception of God is wrong, then we will have incorrect thinking about everything else. Our actions will be based on these false beliefs.
One of my favorite videos on YouTube right now is the one where these two brothers trick their sister into believing that they are in the middle of a zombie apocalypse after she gets her wisdom teeth taken out. She makes all of these funny decisions based on her false belief that the world is being taken over by zombies. In the same way, we have to be careful of deception in the way we think. We have to guard our minds and always get our information about who God is from His Word. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Love Others More Than Yourself
We are reminded at this end of this passage that not only are we to love God, but our love for Him is to overflow to the people around us…“love your neighbor as yourself”. How we love God and how we relate to other people is connected.
Let’s look back at our lawyer friend. He basically says, “Okay, Jesus, I know the verse about loving God, so can you clarify more on who ‘my neighbor’ is?” Jesus loves teaching in stories, and He responds to this dear lawyer with the story of the Good Samaritan you can read about in verses 30-37. Jesus clearly shows that we are to be like this Samaritan. We are to go above and beyond to reach out to others. Our agenda, our ego, our prejudices are to be thrown to the wayside. We are to be selfless and compassionate and put other people’s needs above our own.
We must remember that Jesus went out of His way for us when we were broken and dying in our sin. We have the perfect example to follow…1 John 4:19 & 21 say, “We love, because He first loved us… And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
So today, your assignment is to have a “Date Night With Jesus”. The way to fall in love with Jesus is to hang out with Him. Get to know Him by listening to what He has to say by spending time in His Word and by talking back to Him through prayer and expressing what is on your heart (John 15:4). It will be amazing to see that the more love you have for God, the more love you will have for the people around you.
Jesus, help us to live out Your commandment to love You fiercely. Help us to love You and love others around us. Jesus, in every season and moment I pray that we will seek You first in all things out of our love and devotion to You.