Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why Do You Love God?

Why do we love God? There are many ways of answering that question, but the best answer is the one John gives in this epistle: We love God, because God first loved us. God tells us that we should love one another as He has loved us. God tells us that we should love those who do not love us, and even for those who would do us harm. Why? For the same reason: Because God loves us even if we do not love him as we should – that is, even if we fail to do his will. The very first proof of God’s love for us is that we exist, that He created us. The next proof that God loves us is that He gave his life on the cross to save us.

Today, the Epistle of John speaks to us about another aspect of how we show our love for God, who has first loved us. If someone says, “I love God”, but they do not love their neighbors, they are liars. Why? You cannot really love God, whom you have never seen, if you don’t love your neighbor, whom you can see. That is God’s will: Everyone who loves God must also love his neighbor.

Another way in which we express our love for God is by keeping his commandments. If we keep God’s commandments because we are afraid that God will punish us if we don’t, then we really don’t know God, who is Love. If we love God, in return for God’s love for us, we will keep God’s commandments as a response to his love for us. For those who obey God’s commandments out of fear, the commandments are burdensome, and it is easy to ignore them, even to break them. But for those who obey God’s commandments in response to God’s love, the commandments are not burdensome, since someone who loves another person finds joy in doing what pleases that person. What pleases God is doing good, and loving God and our neighbor because God has first loved us. Love makes obedience to God’s will acceptable; true love makes it a joy.

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