What it Really Means to Love God

This is a repost. I originally posted this on Jan 27, 2009.

cross

Last summer I decided to take God seriously for the first time in a very long time.  Up to that point I just lived life like most people, filling it with normal things like working, going to church, hanging with friends, watching TV, and so on.  But I began to notice that I basically had no room for God in my life. And it seemed that I was really becoming more selfish by the day and that my existence was solely for myself.  This went against everything I had ever learned about my relationship with God, and I knew in my heart that I needed to seek God.

So I did.  I started reading the book of Isaiah and quickly fell in love with it.  And I noticed something that stuck out to me more than anything, and is the reason for this article.  Let me start by quoting Isaiah 2: 11 (emphasis mine):

“The proud look of man will be abased and the loftiness of man will be humbled, And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.”

I think the key word for me in this verse is alone, and what I began to see was that this verse embodies the heart of God; what He desires above all else – to be exalted alone.  And then I noticed this verse repeated again (not verbatim) in verse 17 and then again in 5:15-16.  And then there’s Isaiah 2:22:

“Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?”



God is clearly separating himself from his creation, showing us upon whom our eyes should be focused.

There are also many verses in chapters 1 – 6 where God is speaking judgment on his people for their lewdness, drunkenness, “new moon festivals,” and more.  But what was really becoming clear to me was that God’s desire was to be exalted alone and these things were taking his place – his rightful place. God is a jealous God, and that’s just it. His heart for us is to exalt him, and only him.  Our lives should revolve around him, and only him.  He should be exalted higher than anything in our lives, including those who we love most.  It’s his rightful place.

You know, God chastised his people so much because they were so sinful.  They did everything under the sun, and there are many verses in Isaiah filled with them.  And you read it over and over and over.  But I don’t believe it was ever about  what they were doing – the actual acting out of their sin.  It was about their heart, that they exalted themselves above their God.  This was their sin.  And the reason we read it over and over is because it’s God’s heart to be exalted in our lives, and he’s serious about it.  He wants to be seated in his rightful place.

Consider the imagery of Isaiah 6:1-3 (emphasis mine):

“In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.””

God has revealed himself exalted to Isaiah in great Holiness.  After seeing this common thread over and over just in the first few chapters of Isaiah, I have come to believe that this is the single most important thing that God demands of us – that we should seek to exalt God above all else.

But there is one other thing that must accompany this, and it will separate a life of legalism from a life of absolute heartfelt dedication, and it’s loving God.  See, you can’t exalt God without falling in love with him.  Our lives should literally be a living response of our love for him.  There just isn’t any way around it.  Without this deep love for God we can’t please him, and as a result we end up doing things for the sake of doing things, because maybe we believe it pleases God, but there is nothing really alive inside of us causing us to want to please God.

I like to think of it this way.  What marriage will last without love?  If two people get married but they really don’t love each other, then they are just “playing house” and the charade will eventually fall apart.  And it’s that way with God.  We will grow weary of trying to please God if we don’t love him, and it too will fall apart.  But when we really love God, we find our hearts wanting, almost yearning, to please him, and in that we find great joy.

You know, this is really serious business here, and I believe this is something that we as a christian culture have largely ignored.  To many of us, God is just a distant God, way up above the clouds, and we really never get to know him, much less fall in love with him.  But when we begin to know his heart, as revealed in Isaiah, it begins to change us, and we find something very alive becoming prevalent in our lives.  And exalting God is the only thing that we can place the weight of our souls upon.  And if we really do it, we will find our lives becoming amazingly different and we will wonder why it took us this long to get here.

I will leave you with this passage from Isaiah 12.  This is, what I believe, is a perfect picture of what our hearts will be like when we fully give ourselves to God and exalt him in his rightful place.

Then you will say on that day,
“I will give thanks to You, O LORD;
For although You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away,
And You comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For the LORD GOD is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.”
Therefore you will joyously draw water
From the springs of salvation.
And in that day you will say,
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name
Make known His deeds among the peoples;
Make them remember that His name is exalted.”
Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things;
Let this be known throughout the earth.
Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Comment Policy: Please read our comment policy before making a comment. In short, please be respectful of others and do not engage in personal attacks. Otherwise we will revoke your comment privileges.

To our ad-free users: I apologize for the ad below but unfortunately DISQUS requires this ad in order to use their commenting system and I cannot make it go away.

38 thoughts on “What it Really Means to Love God

  1. Then why did you write anything to begin with? My understanding of your original post was you wanted to offer some truth you felt was missing. So if you really do not believe we truly know, why did you write something unless it was just to be argumentative, or to introduce some amount of doubt?

    Did a group of people 235 years ago fight a war to free themselves from what they saw as a tyranical British government and then set up a nation now known as the United States of America? Yes, they did, and I know that to be true even though I did not experience it. God, who is truth, is a being perfectly able to make himself known to us despite our limited faculties. The various books and traditions you mentioned before are not of equal footing. In other words, they don't tell the same story from different perspectives. One is true and the others are false. The one most glaring difference between the story of Christ and all other religious stories is that God, as Christ, comes into his creation to save the lost through HIS strength and according to HIS will. All of the others demand we find our way back to divinity through OUR strength and according to OUR will. This is inherent in what you have said in your original post, (which you now say you cannot even be certain of) and is the inherent message in Satan's original temptation of Eve.

    Christ is not just someone who got it right and exemplifies the way. He is the way, and He also is the strength to follow the way. We are not divine, and are completely incapable of our own accord or power to follow the right way, or even, as you say, to know it. But I can know it because Jesus Christ is able to make it known.

  2. Why the hang-up with “human” traits? We were formed by His hands and made in His image. Does having some of the same feelings as us make God less of Supreme? I am a father and a son. My wife and I have a daughter who is married, has a 18 month old son, and lives in CA while we live in VA. I personally have been in the Marines since 1990 and although I have learned very well how to subdue my feelings and hide them behind a brick wall, the fact remains I still “need” my mother. Its a bond of love that never goes away and I see it alive and well in me and in my daughter.
    Perfect-Love comes from our heavenly Father, without Him we are left with trained love based on morals and principles and self-gratification. Its only easier to love God when you realize that He is able to love and be loved back, which isn't as easy as it sounds for an invisible God. Its an amazing discovery when one finds that many of the emotions we feel come from God and that He too shares some of the same feelings we do.
    In your analogy of a child growing away from the parents, replace the tranquility of your scenario with that of the recent Chelsea King story. There is a difference between a healthy relationship apart from your child and the case of having your child taken from you. You may not believe in the devil but that is how the lost in this world are taken from God. Not a perfect analogy and the fact that I must go prematurely ends my chance to expound upon it, but I think it is a better picture of why God is so jealous.

  3. Ha. Sometimes it's the SIMPLE answers that are the best. That's an EXCELLENT point…however…I'd still argue that even the jealousy you describe is STILL a HUMAN trait. It takes MORE STRENGTH and LOVE WITHIN ONE'S SELF to get over it, but it's STILL a WEAKNESS that EVEN HUMANS can overcome.

    Whether you are or not…let's ASSUME you're a father. I can go through the entire raising process, but I'll just “clifford note” this speal for ya.

    The child is born and at first…you have to pretty much MONITOR the baby CONSTANTLY to make sure he/she doesn't die. Later on, it's more about spending time with your child, helping to influence his/her development and still taking care of the child…BUT…you can already tell even as early as walking or potty training that your child is NEEDING YOU LESS & LESS. Later on as he/she starts going to school and hanging out with other kids more…the kid really only needs ACCESS to food, clothes, running water, and a comfortable shelter to live and sleep in. The child can actually spend the night at OTHER KIDS' houses now AWAY FROM YOU COMPLETELY…but of course…STILL needs you SOMETIMES. As the kid becomes a teenager, it becomes more of a legal obligation to still provide food, water, clothes, and shelter…but the kid MORE SO kind of doesn't need you in their lives unless you PLACE YOURSELF IN IT. That's YOU IMPOSING (whether your kids thinks this or not) as opposed to them COMING TO YOU anymore. Then…when they're GROWN into ADULTS THEMSELVES…NO MORE do they need you. They can go WHEREVER they want and do WHATEVER they want now. Now you can just LET THEM LOOSE and HOPE for the best.

    Now if your newly adult kid comes over regularly to visit you…GREAT. If he/she DOESN'T…then you might feel betrayed…OR…just make sure they're HAPPY doing whatever it is wherever it is with whoever they're doing it with.

    LOVE is what we all seek on earth NO MATTER WHAT religion you are. I know this might even seem hard to stomach, but EVEN ISLAMIC TERRORISTS seek love…their VERSION of love just happens to be DIFFERENT, but it's STILL LOVE. That is the ONE thing that makes ALL HUMANS THE SAME hence THAT'S why I DIDN'T DISAGREE with Scoop on his post, but just felt that I should include our need to show love for each other more in our daily lives as part of the solution. After all…it's EASIER to show love for an all-powerful deity than it is to show love for ANOTHER PERSON…ESPECIALLY one who has WRONGED you in some way.

  4. Here is an attempt to help with the jealousy dilemma. You're relating the jealousy of God to what humans feel and which is better described as envy. The middle school feeling you got over was the desire for something that was not yours. The jealousy that God feels is the feeling one has when something which rightfully belongs to them is not with them and is with somebody else or doing something without them. God wants to have a relationship with you and I. He is jealous that we spend our time with petty other things instead of with Him.

  5. The ONLY truth that ANYONE REALLY knows OTHER THAN EXPERIENCE is that we DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW what the truth is. We can go on The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, The Vedas, or any other modern religious book…heck…we can use the ancient Egyptian religions and the ancient Persian religions to determine some told story about the beginning and end…but we DON'T TRULY KNOW.

  6. In the beginning, Satan tempted Eve with the idea that she could know how to become like God. Ever since then, mankind has had a different “god” for each person, based on the dictates of that person, or his experience. I am not here going to declare the perfection of “my view” of God. All I can do is follow in the footsteps of Joshua, who when faced with the Angel of the Lord asked if the angel was with Joshua or his enemies. The Angel then declared who he was, in effect declaring “the question is not am I with you, but are you with me.” Yours and my experiences are of little consequence if they are wrong.

    If experience were the only way to know anything, we would all be hopelessly ignorant. If “God” is everything, why does everything, except God, have a beginning? And how did everything get so screwed up?

    We may disagree, but the truth is not open to personal interpretation, whether mine or yours. It matters not whether we agree with each other, but with the truth.

  7. I've got TWO words for you here. ASTRAL PROJECTION.

    You think “God” is a SEPARATE SUPREME entity (that's GOT to be a MAN for SOME strange reason) and I believe that “God” IS EVERYTHING.

    You know what you know from your experience and I know what I know based on mine. This of course goes back to my original statement that “God” is DIFFERENT for EACH PERSON.

  8. That's one of the topics we discussed in my Religion & Society class last semester. We can ATTEMPT a separation of church and state all day long, but the fact is that GOVERNMENT IS HUMAN BEINGS…and these human beings HAVE BELIEFS. So…checkmate, brother.

  9. Trying to answer your question. Obviously most analogies are lacking in some way, but your answer to the question with regard to finding him in the act of chewing is something along the lines of why God is a jealous God. Jealousy is a petty human vice because humans are petty insignificant beings. And granted, a pair of slippers is just a pair of slippers. But God's jealousy is not petty because He is God, and far greater than we can even imagine, without equal. His glory is far greater than can be imagined, (much greater than slippers) and thus it is far “wronger” a thing to take his glory and apply it to created things, including and especially humans.

    We love our fellow human beings because to do less is to exalt ourselves above them and, by extension (as opposed to being the same thing), God since he commands us to love others. It should be pointed out that Jesus tells us that the command to love our neighbor as ourselves is like the command to love God fully, but not the same thing. Similarity and equivalence are distinct from each other.

    So, to finish, jealousy is perfectly good and right when it is God who expresses it because of his incomparableness. Similarly, anger, retribution and self-righteousness are also not only allowable, but good when coming from God, while petty from men, because men are not exalted above each other and they do not have the right to be so. We are not extensions of God, but his creations.

    I am not sure this is a satisfactory answer for you. Given your description of things, I can understand why you would not appreciate the ramifications of this. For the definition of God you have given, jealousy truly would be petty for him. I believe your description exalts the creation on a par with the Creator, and by extension, humiliates the Creator.

  10. I do not believe one can seperate the two. If you are a true believer, in whatever faith, you cannot vote against your beliefs.

  11. Um…wow. I don't know what to address first. Jealousy FOR us? The way you describe it, that's DESIRE…not jealousy. If he's jealous because we put other things ahead of him, that goes back to HUMAN jealousy.

    Open-mindedness is what tends to CONVERT MOST people. It's living by example and SHOWING others that a better life can come through your beliefs brought on by your faith that brings THEM into the circle as well. Everyone starts somewhere, and with religion tends to have the same end, but the paths are different for everyone. I'll AGREE with you that God is the one who determines the BEST path, so we've got to LISTEN for God.

    So…I think since open-mindedness isn't your thing…we can just agree to disagree here.

  12. First – to your point that “every THING, every PLACE, and every BEING is GOD. On other words…ALL US HUMANS are God” …is fundamentally incorrect and simply a biblical SPIN created by humans to make flawed humans feel better.

    All of creation is OF God and FROM God, but ONLY GOD IS GOD. End of story.

    As the original post states, what God wants from us more than anything else is to love him above ALL else. If as Christians we are giving our full hearts to God, then what flows from us will be all those other things like DOING good things, LOVING and FORGIVING others, generally BEING good stewards and citizens. Putting all those things on an equal or higher status with loving and exalting God as the one and only, brings out God's jealousy.

    There is a difference between Godly jealousy and ungodly jealousy. God is certainly not jealous OF anyone or anything, he is Jealous FOR us. His desire is for us to put him first, and his jealousy is because of the fact that we may choose other things to put ahead of Him. He wants the Best for us and that can only be attained if he remains at the center.

    God simply does not want us to take a BROADER perspective. He gave us his Word – it's all there, and the flawed perspective of being “open-minded” has taken a good many Christians off the track.

    As the original post addressed — there is so much wisdom available to the person who not only reads the words in the bible, but internalizes them, meditates on them and uses them to build an intimate, personal relationship with the one and only. The words alone, read and used simply to create a nicely packaged narrative around our human wants and needs, will never be enough.

  13. ..like this, I rest my case…sometimes a blog is just that, a well meant thought by the author, not intended for interpretation; sometimes it is…

  14. ..it was a great post and I appreciate your time that you take in having this website, that is what I am saying, as to how you feel about opinions, I used the word “may” as in not knowing your exact thoughts on it, just mine…I oftentimes don't opine on subjects because I do not wish to leave openings in what sometimes could be misunderstood statements not conveyed easily in small blogs…

  15. GREAT video. I don't think Scoop was trying to tie religion into politics with this post though.

  16. I was getting at the point that sometimes people aren't sure HOW to express their love to God properly other than prayer. I guess sort of like when you ask a question about something…I feel like I provided an ANSWER that this post didn't provide.

    There are a LOT of people out there who pray to God everynight and even pray FOR certain people, but in their day-to-day lives with people, they tend to forget that people are God's CREATION and if you DON'T love God's CREATION…then how seriously do you think God can take you if you SAY that you LOVE HIM?

    Although you'll probably still disagree, what I meant by your fellow man is also God…it's the same God. On other words, you & I as well as all the rest of God's creation…are PART of the SAME GOD…ONLY ONE GOD…just happens to be embodied in ALL OF US simultaneously as well as the very universe we exist in.

  17. Are you trying to answer my question on jealousy or trying to make me realize what I've done by trying to elaborate on Scoops post?

    If I had a dog, he wouldn't be inside to get the chance to chew my slippers. If the dog somehow managed to get inside or I left my slippers in the backyard and the dog tore up the slippers, I'd really just shrug it off cause even though I really liked those slippers…they're JUST SLIPPERS.

    It also depends if I caught the dog in the act or if it had already done its damage. If the damage is already done, then a dog's not gonna know better if you try to punish it. It's MY fault for leaving the slippers out the way I look at it. If I catch the dog in the act, I can hit it in the nose with a newspaper and say “NO,” and hopefully make the dog realize that it's wrong to just chew up slippers.

  18. What do you mean open to opinion? Am I closed minded because I am a Christian? I in fact let people come and go here, allowing them to argue back and forth, some of them with ideas that I completely disagree with.

    Not sure I follow what you are saying.

  19. I appreciate your thoughts, I but I have to strongly disagree on the idea that people around you are Gods. Obviously you know what I believe from the above, and it lacks nothing, but contains everything. It's a good reminder to me of where I really need to be.

  20. If your dog chews up your most comfortable and favorite slippers (example question since I do not know if you have a dog or slippers), what is your reaction?

  21. I'll grant that…but I'm sure you wouldn't COMPLETELY disagree with what I posted though. I mean…I added Christian thought into an already Christian mix. I thought that one out a little bit more than normal before posting BECAUSE I respect Christian morality.

    Perhaps I could've left my own opinion out of it and just elaborated, so…I'm sorry to you, Scoop, and anyone else who felt like I was trying to persuade you.

    Did ya get that, Scoop? Your couch IS comfortable and I enjoy your company. I'll try to be more mindful of your personal taste if I try to do “interior decorating” again.

  22. Scoop, thanks so much for posting this, it's a wonderful thought for a morning start. Love the post!

  23. WELL SAID!! BRAVO ROBERT! I agree with you, you are very right on that. Thanks for this wonderful comments.

  24. Ya see herein lies the problem, while this person built this website and uses it to further educate anyone that comes on here, we a posters fail to realize that what the page owner thinx may not be open to opinion. We as visitors should respect that and leave it be. It's SORTA like someone coming into your house and saying “I don't like that red sofa”, who cares just sit and enjoy the comfortablenes of it and then go. Ya see what I am saying. We al come here and read and post OUR thoughts, no to try and persuade or vilify anyone for or from their opinion.

  25. Dude. Click on Christianity and ACTUALLY LOOK at some of Scoop's postings…PARTICULARLY the Ryan Sorba one he just posted not long ago. He (Scoop himself) provides some pretty good insight as to his thoughts behind legislating morality.

  26. Now you know by now that I'm NOT religious, but I have a Christian background and I have SIMILAR moral values to you.

    I have NO intention on attacking your religion, but I WILL say that your religion's approach to a loving relationship with God is SLIGHTLY ASKEW.

    On other words, I DON'T think you're WRONG…but I think your approach is LACKING.

    First off…I'm gonna ask this question because I never really get a good answer. Maybe one of YOU will be the first to give me a good one.

    WHY is God a JEALOUS God? Jealousy is such a PETTY HUMAN trait. Heck. LITTLE OLD ME managed to overcome it BEFORE MIDDLE SCHOOL. Jealousy just doesn't seem to belong on the resume of a SUPREME BEING in MY opinion.

    Now…from here on out…I FULLY AGREE with you except you're MISSING THE PATH to the solution. I think IF you're capable of looking at the world through MY lens for a moment, then you'll see what you're MISSING. JESUS provides you a similar answer.

    In MY lens…every THING, every PLACE, and every BEING is GOD. On other words…ALL US HUMANS are God.

    So…to love God above all else is CORRECT…but to SHOW this love for God…you must SHOW IT to your FELLOW MAN….EVEN YOUR ENEMIES. Jesus said so TOO.

    Just think about it for a second. Why is it that you feel BETTER when you FORGIVE someone? Not only that, the WORSE the wrongdoing is, the BETTER you feel about forgiving them? It feels like a GIANT BURDEN is lifted RIGHT OUT of you when you do it. That's the DIVINITY of having shown GREAT LOVE and COMPASSION to GOD since your FELLOW MAN IS God.

    Sorry if I offended you, but I just figured I'd try to give you a BROADER perspective on what you posted.

  27. So why post Stossel?

    His latest episode advocated legalizing drugs, prostitution, the selling of one's kidneys and polygamy.

    Why not post clips for “The 700 Club” instead?

    I have no problem against people who believe in God. What I find repulsive is their weasel/slimy ways of trying to sneak their beliefs as “good legislation”

    A national holiday should be the book burnings of bible/qurans and the U.S. flag.

  28. I'm a new regular to your site. This post couldn't have come at a better time for me. Thank you.

  29. I was going through some of the older posts while waiting for Stossel 😉 I hope you take the time to reread your own posts like this to keep in check. I will pray for you brother, I appreciate the work you are doing with this website. TTHWH

Comments are closed.