God, Us, and Love

Blog #64 August 9, 2023

Ideally the relationships in our lives are situations that involve both love given, and love received. If it is to be a connection that brings both comfort and positive growth to our life, it must contain this "give and take" attribute. Our oneness with God implies a relationship with a perfect balance of love given and love received. Does it? In our last discussion we opened our hearts to how much God loves His children and how that love is consistent and always available. Today, I want us to consider how amazingly simple it is for us to show God we love Him.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Once again in God, we find that simple and easy are two very different words. They are just as different as knowing and understanding God's commandments and having the willingness to allowing them to guide the life we live. One is relatively simple. The other is much more demanding.

First let's try to know and understand God's commandments. Our faith in Jesus Christ is based on and finds its heritage in the Hebrew or Jewish religion. The Torah and The Talmud are the two books that contain the fullness of Hebrew law. The Torah is known as the written law and contains The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and some 631 interpretations that apply The Ten Commandments to everyday life. The Talmud is known as the spoken law because its wisdom was originally passed down orally from one generation to the next. It comprises 63 tracts and a total of 517 chapters of Rabbinic or Priesthood opinions that seek to clarify The Torah and the member's life in God. As you can see this is amount of information can humble even the most dedicated believer. I am of the opinion that very few if any have ever been able to muster a love-based response to God based on such a massive amount of information. By its very nature Jewish Law has only one way that it can be applied to our lives and that is by the use of very carefully designed traditions and rituals that take into account each commandment as well as each resulting human interpretation. Simply put I am convinced that at its best the performance of traditions and rituals only demonstrate to God and the world a fear-based obedience to an omnipotent Deity. They are insufficient in expressing of our love for a Heavenly Father. 

What then do we do? How are we supposed to allow this all-powerful deity a place in our hearts? How do we open our lives willingly allowing our love for Him to shine bright with the light of truth? What can cause us to love Him and leave our fears behind?

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Our first step is to realize the God understands our plight. Through John, God brought to us proof that if we cling to our fear of God; we will never be able to fully express our love for Him. Open your mind to all God is showing us. Consider the relationships of your life that you want to believe include love. How as a child did you know your parents or siblings loved you? How do you know that your spouse loves you? Is it what they say, what they do, or is it something more esoteric; something you just can't quite describe, but you know it is there? Myself, I believe that love is a construct we build brick by brick with that person we love. As we live and are a part of each other's life our relationship with this person becomes essential in defining our life and how we live it. In essence love is a result of the oneness of effort for a purpose we share with another. The labor we share together is an expression of love one to another. 

But, how do we do that with God? I mean to begin with God is our one true invisible friend. We can't see Him. We can't touch Him. His very existence in our life is founded on nothing more or less than our faith. We have to believe, that God is real. Without that belief, God doesn't exist in our lives and we can't know or care for Him in any way. Am I wrong or does that make our ability to express our love for Him just a little bit hard, boarding on impossible? Where do we go to find God? Is church the place or is going to church every Sunday just a small step removed from the traditions and rituals that really seem to be just an effort in futility? How do I as a person say to God I love you, and truly have a sense that the message was received?

Romans 12:1-2
12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
12:2 And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God is.

I guess we could do this, but does anyone truly know what this means? The world seems to think so, but then again we are stuck in this never-ending circle of traditions and rituals that seem to be the only way to display our love for God.

I think that maybe it is time to go to the earthly ministry of Christ and see if He gave us any clues. Christ must surely have known just what a confusing maze the Hebrew laws were, and I will guarantee that if He knows, He will help us  

Mark 12:33-36
12:33 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
12:34 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is; Hearken, and hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord;
12:35 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.
12:36 This is the first commandment. And the second is like this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Consider here the burden Christ is attempting to take off our backs. In one fail swoop He reduced 631 commandments and hours and hours of oral conjecture to two simple easy to understand commandments that both include love.  

Matthew 22:36-39
22:36 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
22:37 This is the first and great commandment.
22:38 And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
22:39 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

One would assume that this is a trick because it makes everything too simple, and I would agree. Except for that one reoccurring factoid in the scriptures: simple does not mean easy. Compare this verse from 1John with just what we read above.

1John 4:20-21
4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

God did trick us, for it is impossible for us to love God if we hate our brother, and there is no need to love our brother if we hate God. But that is not the end of the love we need to have for our Brethren.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.

We need to show our love willingly. When we attempt to reach out and do it because we feel like we "have to"; it becomes a worthless gesture. 

Moroni 7:7 For behold, if a man being evil, giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

When you stop to consider what is happening here you will recognize God is teaching us how to start an avalanche. The more we give the more we receive. The more we love the more we are loved. Yes I realize that prideful man will take what we give him and seek to return nothing. But, God asks us to love our neighbor. Nothing was mentioned about them loving us back. We are laboring with God and for God. We can trust that our love is safe in Him. Even if we are hated by the world God loves us. So then what are the people we are trying to reach? Are they unimportant? Are they just incidental? No, they are individuals like us that want more from this life than the world can give us. They are someone to grow with. They are someone to mourn with. They are someone to have joy with. They are common understanding. They are one heart, one mind, and one people. They are temporal proof that God is love. They are more than just incidental. They are everything, and we need to treat them that way.

Luke 6:36-38
6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken 

God promises this and I don't take God's promises lightly. More importantly God promises us that He can and will affect a change in us that will allow us to open our hearts without fear. Years and years of being human tends to harden our hearts. God understands both how and why this happens and he doesn't hold it against us. In fact He offers to heal our hearts and give us the ability to live with and love all humanity.

Ezekiel 36:26-27
36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
36:27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.

This is a wonderful gift He is offering us, but we have to want it. God's love for us will not allow Him to force anything on us. We have to want to love all God's children. Perhaps that is a good way to approach it, because everyone finds it easy to love a child and recognize the needs they have. Understand that in God, that angry guy coming out of the liquor store with four piercings, a whole arm full of tattoos, and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth is someone that God loves very much, but like an untrained child, he doesn't have a clue. Can you see the need there? Does that make you sad? Should it? Does it make God sad? I believe it does. What would it take to make the God you love happy?

Luke 15:10 Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repenteth.

I believe the only sure way for us to tell God we love Him is to openly labor with Him for the redemption of all humanity. I'll entertain another if I could find it, because this one is hard. It requires me to trust God. It asks me to love the unlovable. It wants me to be humble and think good things about everyone. It is way harder than just going to church every Sunday. 

But.............. what ya gonna do?
As always, the choice is yours


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