Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
Last Sunday we considered the first half of the Great Commandment, that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mk. 12:28-34). Along with loving our neighbor (the second half of the Great Commandment), Jesus said there is no commandment greater than this.
The question, of course, is: How can we love God like this? How can we grow in our love for God? As I shared in the message on Sunday, the way we grow in our love for God is by learning more of His unfathomable love for us, how God came to us in Jesus Christ who suffered and died a horrendously painful death so we can be reconciled to God and spend eternity in His loving presence. Our love for God is then simply our response to the wonder of His love for us.
Therefore, it is good to regularly, even daily, take a few minutes to reflect on the gift of God’s love, especially as it comes to us through Jesus Christ. Read and meditate on the portions of Scripture that describe God’s love, especially those passages that highlight Christ’s suffering for us.
It can also be helpful to either sing, read the words, or even listen to hymns and songs that center on God’s love for us in Jesus. (With YouTube, you can listen to almost any hymn or song.) Take your time and let the truth of the words sink deeply into your mind and soul. For instance, take a moment to ponder these words from the hymn O Sacred Head, Now Wounded:
O Sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thy only crown,
How art Thou pale with anguish, With sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, Which once was bright as morn!
What Thou, my Lord, has suffered, Was all for sinners’ gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression, But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
When we regularly take time to focus on the gift of God’s love for us, considering that God would love each of us in such a costly way, we will find our love for God increasing. The more we learn of and embrace God’s love for us, the more our love for God will naturally grow. And then we will live with both deep gratitude and abounding joy.
Grace and peace,