One of the things that’s very concerning in the Church today is an attitude where one does whatever is right in his own eyes. Using the pretext of God’s love, His nature of long-suffering and grace – believers pursue whatever they please to do, expecting that a loving God will condone and celebrate His children notwithstanding.
However, this is far from the truth. The fact that God left us 66 books for our study indicates that He’s very meticulous about what He approves of and what He doesn’t. A key misconception that we must deal with is that we can love God however way we want or choose to express that love for Him in whichever manner we desire. On the contrary, God is very particular about how we’re to express our love for Him.
In the Old Testament, the Law would show a clear contrast between the prescribed manner of worship acceptable to the Lord and the way through which pagan worship was conducted. Integral to the pagan worship of those times were the offering of child sacrifices, tattooing, the practice of temple harlotry, and divination, among others. The Lord made it clear in Leviticus 19 that He’d not accept these practices as a legitimate expression of worship and love towards Him.
Instead, He instituted five sacrifices in the Old Testament, which brings across an incredible expression of what Christ accomplished on the Cross. Among these sacrifices is the Burnt Offering. The Burnt Offering was a voluntary offering and its primary purpose is an expression of love from the giver of the sacrifice to the Lord. Interestingly, the way in which the Burnt Offering was to be offered was given in great detail. In other words, God is very particular about how we express our love for Him.
We’re told in Leviticus 1, that the Burnt Offering is to be given in four parts – the head, the fats, the entrails and the legs. These respectively represent our mind, our strength, our affections and our walk. The expression of our love for God has to be done through these four aspects of our lives.
Part of loving God comes from knowing Him. The more we come to know the Lord, the more we’d be drawn to love Him. He’s both merciful and severe. He’s full of grace and also full of truth. We must never emphasise an aspect of God to the detriment of other equally valid virtues of the Lord. As we give our intellect to know Him and also to know that He cannot be fully understood, we direct our minds and thoughts towards Him more and more.
Loving someone also requires for us to give our strength to express that love to them. In like manner, loving the Lord requires for us to give ourselves to serve Him and to serve others. One of the fundamental principles in God’s Word is that we cannot say that we love God (whom we cannot see), when we do not love the people around us (whom we can see). How much we love God can be seen by how much we love people. That’s why giving our strength to serve others is so much a part of our faith.
The third aspect has to do with our affections. This relates to our emotions and where our attention is focused on. Affections are often seen through the amount of time we spend with someone. We long to be with the person we’re in love with. The question then is – Is God the One whom we desire to spend time with?
Finally, there’s our walk. Jesus said, “If you love Me, obey My commandments.” Obedience is the by-product of a loving walk with God. When we love the Lord, we won’t want to displease Him. We’d instead want to find out what pleases Him and walk in the same manner that He walked.
I pray that we’ll not have some fuzzy idea about what it means to love God, but understand that He has expressly shown us a prescribed way to love Him.