Every Sunday, church buildings are filled with people who claim to love God. Some of these people say their love for God defines their politics or ethics. Many would go to war in the name of God. But what does loving God look like? How can that love be evident for all to see?
Interestingly, many people think that having faith in God means they love him. One can believe in God and not love Him. After all, the devil and his demonic hosts believe in God. But they certainly do not love Him. As one writer says, there is no atheist in hell. I would add, there is no atheist in the spirit realm either. Every spirit knows that God exists. They believe in his power, though they remain in their state of rebellion. That’s what makes them demonic.
Having faith in God is the introduction to having a relationship of loving union with Him. Without faith in God, it is impossible to love God, to please and serve Him. But faith does not compel us to obedience. Only love can do that. Love compels us to keep serving and honoring God even when our faith is weak. Because of our love for God, we gladly lay our lives on the line for His namesake. It is love—not faith—that makes us sacrifice our time, talents, and treasure for the building of God’s kingdom on earth.
In today’s text, Jesus tells his disciples, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” The prophet Samuel told King Saul “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). Why? Because our love for God is manifested through our obedience to His will. How can we say we love God if we refuse to please Him and reverence Him by honoring His word?
Love is a verb of action. Loving God requires us to act on behalf of God and to do the things that please God. Therefore, James says faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Obedience demands action. One cannot believe obedience. They have to do obedient acts. To believe in God without doing the work of God in obedience to His commandments is demonic.
It is spiritually dangerous for believers to walk in disobedience to the word of God while claiming to have faith in Him. Spiritual disobedience puts us on par with demonic spirits. It lets God know we do not really love Him. That makes us more vulnerable to demonic attacks and weakens our faith in God.
When my wife and I took our marital vows we did so because we believed that we love each other. However, for a couple to stay together they have to move beyond believing in love to acting in ways that are consistent with that love. That means cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, date nights, praying with each other, forgiving one another, working through difficult marital seasons, and investing in one another.
When a believer gives their life to Christ they took a vow to love, obey, serve, and honor Him unto death. That vow is lived out through our obedience to his commands. Thus, when our Lord says go and make disciples we do so with eager enthusiasm because we love Him. Our love for our savior compels us to feed the hungry, clothed the naked, visit those in prison, fight against injustice, and do all in our power to set the captives free. We cannot just believe that good works are godly, we have to do them. If we desire to respond in kind to the love that God has shown us through Christ Jesus, we have to obey Him. Indeed, obedience is our way of telling God that we abide in His love.
Questions For Reflection
What act of obedience can you do to show God that you love Him? What does loving God mean to you?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please give us a heart of obedience so our love for you can be more evident for the world to see.