Heavenly Love On An Earthly Plane
In this first issue, I’m beginning with our Saviour’s own words as stated in Matthew 22:36-40. A Pharisee who was a lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
These words show us that we must love God first, but how do we love God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind? This seems a daunting task beyond any human ability. Besides, it is also clear, that it is only by keeping this first and great commandment that we are able to love ourselves and love our neighbour in the way that pleases God.
The words of a great Christian writer provides us with a deeper insight into this thought. A.W. Tozer in his book, “The Pursuit of God”, states: “God wills that we should push on into His presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held; it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day. …The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God, and the Church is famishing for want of His presence. The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and God is in us. This would lift us out of our pitiful narrowness and cause our hearts to be enlarged. This would burn away the impurities in our lives…the highest love of God is not intellectual, it is spiritual. God is spirit and only the spirit of man can know Him really. In the deep spirit of a man the fire must glow or his love is not the true love of God.”
What prevents us from entering into God’s presence? What hinders us? A.W. Tozer goes on to explain that it is the presence of a veil in our hearts. “It is the veil of our fleshly, fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. It is the close-woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed, and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgement of the cross…an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress…They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.
To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, self-promotion and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them.” How do we get rid of this veil of the self-life that prevents us from entering into God’s presence? Once again, A.W. Tozer explains: “There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgement. …To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus, and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free. Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life, hoping ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life and then reckon it crucified. But we must be careful to distinguish the lazy “acceptance” from the real work of God…Insist the work be done in very truth and it will be done. The cross is rough and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the presence of the living God.”
In summary, the key to loving God has nothing to do with our abilities or accomplishments but everything to do with our willingness to surrender to God our life and everything in it. It requires that we be willing to seek God faithfully not with lists of needs and wants but simply with the desire to get to know Him. It requires that we choose to obey God. In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command”, and in verse 21 he states: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” If you want to know that you truly love God, look at how obedient you are to His Word.
The Psalmist also gives us a hint of the attitude and feelings that should govern our love-relationship with God:
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
(Psalm 42:1-2, NKJV)
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
(Psalm 63: 1, 3-5, NKJV)
Author, J.I. Packer, tells us in his book, “Knowing God”, that:
When we look at God’s wisdom, we see something of His mind;
when we think of His power, we see something of His hand and
His arm; when we consider His word, we learn about His mouth;
but when we contemplate His love, we look into His heart,
and we shall stand on holy ground but we need the grace
of reverence,that we may tread it without sin.
Here is a prayer that you may wish to pray:
I ask you in your Divine providence to impart to me the deepest desire to truly know you. I willingly ask you to root out from my heart everything that displeases you and hinders me from having a deeply personal and loving relationship with you. I commit to faithfully set apart time to meet with you, God, not just for my needs and wants but to simply rest in your Holy presence and meditate on your Holy Word. I want to have a heart that thirsts for you and longs to be in your presence. In the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Amen.