This week's sermon in advance...

Do I love God?

It’s a question I ask myself sometimes and it causes me to think.

I believe God exists. I believe God matters. I believe that God is uniquely manifested in the world in Jesus Christ. I know I need God and want God.

But do I love God?

I’m not talking about the emotional syrupy kind of stuff where people get together and sing pop songs with the word “baby” replaced by the word “God”. Emotions are part of love but they never define it, they are never its substance.

I’m not talking about needing God or wanting God. So much of our modern definition of love is about having someone in our life who can meet our needs or hungers, but that’s not love, that’s manipulation, and it doesn’t matter whether God or somebody else is involved.

I am talking about authentic love, the kind where those who love each other enjoy each other’s presence for its own sake, where they strive to grow together, make each other the center of their existence, and are incomplete when they apart. It’s the kind of love we all hope for, even for a moment in this life, a love beyond the emotion of a moment, beyond the meeting of a temporary need, beyond even the beauty of the erotic, a union as it were, of souls.

But do I love God?

I would have to say “I’m not sure, my reasoning has been so clouded that I’m often not certain what real love is.” If the truth was known it’s more than likely my relationship with God is 99.99 percent God loving me with very little in return. But I know I want to love God. And I know that something inside me says that it’s what I was meant to do.

I know that without a love for God my life, my faith, my religion is merely ritual without substance, like a marriage where everything is gone except for the routine. I know God created me with the ability to respond with love to His love and in its absence I am empty, I am less than human and all I do is meaningless.

I know, too, that my love is tainted with selfishness, ambition, an eye to my own benefit and the feeding of my never ending hungers. I rarely love for its own sake even though it’s what I know should be. I seek others out for my own needs and give back when it is mutually agreeable and even more so with God. My list of demands for heaven is long, my list of sacrifices miniscule.

Yet I know as well that God’s love is so profound that it can even enable me to love God truly in return. I can humbly ask “God teach me not just to recognize you, or obey you, or come to terms with you, but to love you” and God, in love, will work with me, overcome my faults, enlighten my darkness and slowly but surely guide me to where I can truly love God in return for the love that has been given to me.

I suspect in these days that God has many who claim to speak for him and act in his name, many who study him, many who poke through the tea leaves of time and history to discern his presence. All that may be well and good but is it possible that God is actually looking most of all for people who will love him?

I believe this may be true, and God granting me grace I am going to try.

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