Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Loving God

What does it mean to love God? Love is such a difficult term…hard to quantify, hard to define. I love my parents, my sister and brothers; I love Gabe, and I love Jonathan; I love my closest friends. Each relationship is different, and the love that I feel and the actions that follow are different as well. So when this abstract term is applied to God, I have a hard time knowing what is required of me.

I’ve often been told that loving God means being obedient to him. This is a fairly straightforward answer, but leaves me feeling that I’m missing something. After all, my love for Jonathan has nothing at all to do with being obedient to him. Love for Gabe could include obedience under some circumstances, but not often. And even my love for my parents no longer includes this component. Love for those closest to me (Jonathan and Gabe) plays out in my life primarily in two ways: as a (very strong) feeling, and as the action of giving to them. This includes giving up for them.

I can give things up for God, and often I find that obedience to him requires exactly that. So in that sense I can see the parallel between love for God and love for others in my life. But I can’t give to him, at least not in the same way that I give to Gabe or Jonathan. (Side note: I give scads of time to Gabe and to Jonathan. Is this a way in which I should be loving God, and am not?) And so I am left with love as a feeling…and I just don’t know how I’m supposed to feel love towards God. Every time I try to work this out, I come up with a complete blank. Love God. Love God. Love God. What does that feel like?

I don’t get very far with that attempt at understanding what loving God really is. So is it just obedience that is required? Gabe says that his concept of loving God is much tied up with the concept of duty…of doing that which is required of him. Since he also sees his relationship with me and with Jonathan in terms of duty, this makes sense. But I’ve never fully understood the idea of duty in a love relationship. And so that really hasn’t helped me much.

In some ways, having “loving God” mean “obeying God” only would be an easy answer. Not that it is easy to obey God 100% of the time, but that at least then I’d have a clear-cut answer of what I’m supposed to be striving for. As is I’m left with an uneasy feeling that I ought to be obeying and feeling…something. And I don’t know what that something is.

Comments are welcomed. :)


Elena said...
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Elena said...
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Elena said...

Another way in which I love my husband is by taking care of the things that matter to him. Part of loving Andy is nurturing his beloved sons... and protecting his books from those beloved sons.

This aspect is also a part of loving God. I can't exactly love God by making Him dinner, but I can love Him by making dinner for someone He cares about... just like making a special meal for Douglas and Karen is an expression of love for Andy. Do you love me? Feed my sheep. In as much as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.

Of course all this could be interpreted under the category of obedience, but I don't think that's the whole story. Being under the new covenant of grace, we have come of age and no longer serve God under compulsion as a child or a slave, but freely, as sons. What we actually end up doing looks the same either way... but we do it out of love and gratitude, not fear of judgment

I'm reminded of Augustine... in the rightly ordered soul, all our earthly loves are not parallel loves in competition with our love of God, but rather components of our love for Him. We love God through loving our husbands and children, just as we love our husbands through loving our children...

Okay, now I think it's time to stop soliloquizing (sp?) and love God and Andy by feeding September some breakfast. =)