Question from an online friend:
I am trying to learn to love Christ. I know with certainty that I believe in God and believe in Christ, but how does one learn to Love Him? Am I overthinking things?
Affection is a feeling that comes and goes like the weather, but love is a thing you do.
You love God the way you’d do love to your parents: By finding out what they think before you make a decision, even though you’re a grown-up; by remembering to honor them even when you disagree; by seeking peace with your brothers and sisters.
You love God by doing love to the people around you: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” You love God by trusting He knows better than you: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.” For starters, that means that all our motives, intentions, thoughts, imagination, preferences and ambitions ought to be put under the yoke of Christ. If something in us resists that, then it’s got to change or go. “Let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” What remains still needs to be purified, which starts by examining how our priorities and thought life and plans honor God. (That’s an all-your-life process.)
In the end, since love is an act of the will empowered by God, we love God by deciding to. “I love You, O Lord” doesn’t mean “I am filled with a feeling of devotion” (though it might) — it means “I have made my choice to offer my life to You as a love offering. Make my life acceptable to You, change and rearrange any part of me or my life, because I belong to You.”
If you talk to elderly people whose marriages were arranged, you may be surprised, as I was, to find that they genuinely love each other. Their match may have been set up without their input, but they’ve made the choice to love each other and feelings have grown in them over the years.
Feelings are fickle and unreliable, but even so, what we choose — and practice — becomes familiar and desirable to us, so that the act of will “I choose to love the Lord” really does become the heart’s confession “I love the Lord.”
Say it with faith and trust Him to make His own love grow in you.