In continuation of yesterday's topic of Jesus' love in this Lenten Season, let's look at our own love for him.
Here is a thought from Peter H. Davids of Houston Baptist University:
"Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Well, how about, “Love your enemies”? Well, how about, “Sell what you have and give to the poor”? We work hard at explaining why these and many other teachings of Jesus do not apply to us, or are merely personal and internal. We want to experience the love of God, and so we have an exciting worship event with a great band. And such infatuation love wears off quickly; it takes the type of love that the spiritual tradition speaks so much about to last a lifetime. Jesus is committed to our good, and to show it he did not have good feelings, but he had the painful feelings of stretching out his arms upon the cross. This is the type of love that has lasted not only for a lifetime but for millennia."
Keep my commandments. Pretty simple order, right? Just do what I tell you to do. So I haven't killed anyone. Check. So I don't covet my neighbor's wife. Check check. My neighbor doesn't even have a wife. But then the water gets murky.
Do I love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind?
Do I love my neighbor? Do I love all my neighbors?
Do I love myself?
If I eat meat on Friday by accident, does that mean I don't love God?
If I break down and have a Girl Scout cookie, am I turning my back on my Savior?
If I don't fast or sacrifice or give up or do as much as my friends, is God going to love me?
Sometimes if we're not ignoring God, we're terrified of him. We feel guilty in his presence. We're afraid to face him. We feel like failures. We don't love ourselves. We don't love our neighbors. And we don't love him.
But God isn't some foreign entity who watches what you do through a security camera and assumes that you're guilty of your actions. In fact, he sent his Son to die for us so that we could be forgiven and do better and stop feeling guilty.
He knows you. He knows you better than anyone, better than yourself. And he expects a lot from you. But he knows that it's hard. He knows the pressures you're going through in life and the responsibilities you have and the struggles you can't escape from him. And he doesn't think of you as a failure. He thinks of you as his precious child.
So stop hiding. Use this Lent and use your sacrifices to examine yourself. Get to know yourself like he knows you. Talk to him about it. Tell him you don't know if you can love your neighbor three doors down with the blaring music and yappy dog and crying child. Ask for help.
Tell him that you don't know how to love him with all your heart and mind and soul. Tell him you have no idea what that even means. Tell him you're sorry for the moments you've messed up and ask for forgiveness. Go to confession. More than once.
And when you're struggling, in the trenches, in the middle of the tunnel without a flashlight. When there is no end to the road, and all you want is some vanilla ice cream or 30 minutes in front of the TV, or a quick check of Facebook, or a big steak on Friday, just stop for a second. Ask for the God's strength and patience. And love God back by recognizing the love he has for you. It's not the not eating sweets or pizza or soda or meat. It's not the not watching TV or going on Facebook or Youtube or Twitter. It's not the fasting on Friday's or fasting every day or fasting for two days that matter during Lent. It's those moments of denying yourself and the way in which they force you to call on his love for strength. That's what matters. That's what makes Lent about Love.
So call on him.
Have a God-filled day
*The rest of Peter Davids' blog is here for any of you who want to dive deeper: