Just want to preface this by saying this will be a blog of quotes, for the simple reason that they all fit together so beautifully.
I just recently read Gene Edwards' book, The Divine Romance. First let me say...AMAZING book. This book will challenge everything you think you know about how and how much God loves you and will turn on it's ear the feeble understanding you have about what it means to love God back.
The book is written as a play and is told mainly from the view point of the angels. One of the most impacting moments in the book, for me anyway, is after God meets with Moses on Mt. Sinai and tell him that He will be Israel's God and they will be His people. He tell Moses to tell His people that the ONLY thing He requires of them is that they love Him. Later God walks through the Israelite camp and overhears people talking about how they will give their money and obedience to God, and how the will worship, praise and serve Him. God let's out a groan of sorrow and says,
“I did not require of you
your wealth nor coins of gold.
What need have I of these?
I did not ask of you
that you serve me.
Do I, the Mighty One,
need to be waited upon?
Neither did I ask you
your worship nor your prayers
nor even your obedience.”
“I have asked but this of you,
that you love me...
So that was the beginning of my wrecking. I began to ask how and started trying to figure out God's love and what that exchange should look like. I knew God wanted our love, but to consider that fact that everything else is unimportant, even prayer, was crazy to me.
After The Divine Romance, I read a book by Brennan Manning called The Furious Longing of God. I bought them at the same time and little did I know it would be a great follow up book. It gives a very real and applicable approach to what God's love looks like in our life and how to reflect His love. (Let me throw a disclaimer out...I don't depend on Christian books for my understanding of the things of God, I read my Bible everyday and that is my sole source of truth.)
With that said, Manning, in speaking of God's love, warns us “to stay alert and aware, especially of God smiling at our silliness.”
Just prior to that he quotes, Ephesians 3:17-19 which says,
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” This confused me, because if we “have the power to fully understand” then how is it “too great to understand”?
Here's what I think it is, one of the things that God thinks is silly and smiles at us about is our attempts to not only beautify His love with our words, but also our attempts to make it understandable. The truth is, nothing we can say can convey the beauty or depth of God's love. What it ends up being is that we are but silly little children running around trying to learn the unlearnable things of God. God simply wants us to be still and know His love, but not in the intellectual/cognitive sense, but know it in a way that we experience it. Edwards says that while God loves us continually, He wants us to love Him with, abandoned, innocent, unbridled passion.”
The bottom line is that God wants nothing more than our love. The other stuff flows out of that love. Our worship, obedience, prayer, tithe should all be byproducts of our intense love for Him, not our obligation to Him. Just as Eve was built out of Adam's side to be his counterpart and reflect his love back to him, we, as The Church, are built out of God's side and made to be His counterpart and reflect his love back to Him. So how do we do it? First through spending time with Him. Consumption of His word (that 66 book love letter He wrote YOU called the Bible) and prayer are how you spend time with Him. The other is through loving others. The great commandment...Love you God, with all you heart, soul, mind and strength and love you neighbor as yourself. That means spending time with and loving other believers in gospel community. Jesus did say, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” ~ John 13:34-35
I love Him,