Our world is facing a new beginning, a new normal. With the reopening of schools, it feels our world is reopening as well. If we have to relaunch and start over, I say we start with the two most important commandments. In Matthew 22:36-40, we see Jesus answer this question. His answer is simple, Love God and Love People!
Let’s start with how to love God. From the 10 commandments given to Moses, to David in the Psalms, to Jesus himself, this is the first thing we are called to do as Christians. But what does this look like?
As in any relationship, love is a word used often but is hard to describe or quantify. There is no “This plus that equals love.” Love is more of a verb than a feeling. We know love based on the actions we take. We will look at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace to show what it means to put our love of God into action.
Love is a Feeling
When you hear the word love in our world today the first thing that probably comes to your mind is the love we know of in romantic movies. The young boy falling for the beautiful girl and the feelings that cause them to lose their words and giggle. The lightning bolt when their hands touch, the smile when he grabs her hand during the movie, and the bliss of a first kiss. This love is a feeling. But there is also the feeling of love we have for our family and close friends. We all know this kind of love. But what if I asked you to put it into words?
It’s harder to nail down the right words. We have this one word for love that covers such a vast span of emotions. I can remember when my wife and I had been dating for a few years and I said, “I love you… but like more. The words just are not enough to say how I am feeling.” Have you ever felt that?
But again, we have a hard time putting this thing we call love into words. And it makes sense because of the way our brain is wired. One side of our brain handles the emotions and feelings; the other handles the logic and language. And these sides of the brain do not always communicate well. We feel these things deeply but can still struggle to put words to them.
Love in Action
So the question is if we cannot create a definitive definition of love, how can we know that we are loved or that we love someone. The answer is quite simple, love is more than a feeling, it is a verb. It requires action. The way we talk to someone, the time we spend with them, the things we do for them, all show our love. I think about the scripture in Matthew 6:21 that says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Where are you spending your treasure?
Our treasure is our time, money, and energy. You know your mom loves you when she takes the time to make your lunch and leaves a special note for you. You know your dad loves you when he comes home from a long day at work and takes time to play catch with you. You know your friends love you when they stick up for you at school. You know that special someone loves you when they sacrifice their desires (and let’s be honest — money) to take you on a fancy date night. Love is a feeling but we know it by our actions!
Love God in Action
The best story I can think of to see loving God in action comes from the book of Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — men who believed in and loved God. But they lived under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar and were required by law to worship only him. These three men continued to worship God even as they were threatened to be thrown into a fiery furnace. This is how they responded:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:16-18
These men were willing to die. I know this is an extreme example, but it is a great example of love in action. For many of us, it doesn’t take something this extreme to make us lose our faith and love for God. Something at work doesn’t go our way. A friend says something behind our back. The world shuts down due to a global pandemic.
Regardless of where you are today, there are going to be moments in your life where you will have to answer the question, “Do you love God?” just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. You will have to answer not just with your words, but with your actions. And there will be consequences. They were thrown in the fire.
The good news of this story is that they survive. More than that, we read further in Daniel that the king saw someone in the fire with them. I believe it was Jesus. Things may not always go your way, times will get tough. But Jesus will be with you. And Jesus showed His love in the actions that He took. He died on the cross for you, so that you can have life. Do your life and your actions say that you love God?
Make Love a Verb
Are you ready to take the next step to make sure you’re showing love as a verb? There are a few things you can do. As you start thinking about your actions, do you think they show God’s love to other people? Do they show where your treasure is located? As you walk through each day, think about what you can do to show people that you Love God? Then, go do it.