“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 greatest commandment.And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
– Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39)
Two common questions amongst believers:
1. “How can I be more intimate with God?
2. “How can I learn how to love?
The Lord revealed to me a simple but profound answer- “you must first receive My Love.” This is why Paul prays for the Church at Ephesus:
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”- Ephesians 3:17-19
The reason why you struggle to interact and be intimate with God is not because God doesn’t love you, Paul quite clearly prays that we might be able to comprehend with ALL the Saints so we know that there is not a single one of us that God does not love. It’s because you have not had a revelation of His love for you in your heart. It exists, it’s real but your heart doesn’t know about it. Paul is also indicating that deeper intimacy with God i.e. being filled with the fullness of Him occurs by knowing His love and being grounded in it.
Interesting, isn’t it? That Paul doesn’t pray “that you may learn to love/become more intimate with God.” He simply prays that the crazy, intense love of the Father which burns hotter than the hottest flame and far surpasses what the mind can comprehend might be revealed in our hearts because he knows that it is the kind of love which cannot be felt and not be reciprocated. “We love Him, because He FIRST loved us.”- 1 John 4:19. You must first receive God’s love in order to love, desire and grow in intimacy with Him. You must also understand the root of His love and how it was first ever expressed to you.
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, because that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”– 1 John 4:9.
When a plant is ROOTED, it is firmly planted. If your revelation of God’s love for you isn’t rooted in the foundation who is Christ, it becomes circumstantial- based on what God does which is dangerous because in that there’s no security or stability. It allows for a wavering belief in God’s love. We don’t know God’s love by what He does for us we know God’s love by the first thing He ever did for us- giving the life of His Precious Son, Jesus Christ that we may be called sons (1 John 3:1 & Ephesians 1:5). Every other show of love flows from this.
All three personalities in the Godhead bear witness and play a role in the revelation of love. Father chose to love us; Jesus is the root of His Love for us and Holy Spirit is the power (“that you may BE ABLE to comprehend”) that reveals this love in our hearts. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can be receivers of God’s love so when we receive we’re interacting with all three of them. We’re thanking Father for choosing to Love us, Jesus for manifesting this love by dying for us and Holy Spirit for showing us the intensity of this love (1 John 5:7).
Now, once the love of God is revealed in our hearts, we must constantly receive and grow in it. Paul speaks of the width, the length, the depth, the height- oh how great is the love of Jesus! We must spend the rest of our lives discovering and receiving more of it through the knowledge of Him. There is humility in understanding that love is a process. Humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of the Father is understanding and agreeing with Him that we cannot be perfected in love in one day and that we’re called to grow in it, reaching greater depths of His love for us and reciprocating it, thereby fulfilling the first and greatest commandment of Jesus because when you get even a glimpse of the intensity of God’s love for you, your whole being (heart, soul, mind) responds to His love.
Finally, learning to love others. A problem arises when we skip receiving God’s love and focus on loving our neighbour. We fall into “works” and “niceness” and ironically fail to fulfil the second commandment in that we cannot truly love others before we first love God and we cannot love God without first receiving His love because He first loved us and not vice versa. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”- 1 John 4:10. Christians cannot love until we first know love who is God: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the Brethren.”- 1 John 3:16. It’s the love of God, revealed in our hearts that spills out around us onto others. Also, Paul tells us that this love surpasses all knowledge, meaning that we must receive God’s love by experience so that when we tell and show others the love of God, we’re speaking and acting in TRUTH “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”– 1 John 3:18. We love others in truth when we know that God loves them because we are daily receivers of the love that we speak of. If you are not a receiver of God’s love, how can you speak of/show others His love? And how will you see others through His eyes unless you have had a glimpse of how much He loves them through His love revealed in your heart. A truly loving Christian who loves healthily is one who is a constant receiver of their Father’s love. Anything short of this is niceness. There is a difference. This is what God shared with me concerning niceness:
“Niceness doesn’t build character. Love does. Being nice fades or takes a vacation. Love is always present.”
Christians are not called to be nice, we are called to love. So, you see that God’s love is not a statement nor is it a feeling. It is a DEEP well of truth and discovery and I encourage you to spend this week receiving it by experience. Spend time in His Presence, asking Holy Spirit to reveal the intensity of it to you through Jesus. You’re greatly and immensely loved.
Recommended scripture for prayer and meditation:
Meditation: Matthew 22:37-39 | Ephesians 1:5 | 1 John chapters 3-5
Prayer: Ephesians 3:17-19
– Joyinola Layonu (KF1 Leader)