Many religious denominations teach us that obedience is the key to a successful Christian life, but obedience is only one of the contributing factors; it’s not the main issue. For a healthy Christian life we need to love God.
It’s not difficult to develop a love for God when we understand who He is and what He has done for us. The Bible says in John 3:16 that He loved us so much that He sent His Son to be a sacrifice for us so that we wouldn’t have to endure the punishment of sin. Out of love Jesus took our sin upon Himself and was separated from God so that He could take that sin to hell.
This was no easy task for Jesus. He had never been separated from His father before and now He was hanging on a cross, bleeding and broken, with all of our sin and sickness raging through His body while the demons of the devil surrounded Him and waited to drag Him to hell.
A migraine headache is horrible, but He took on everyone’s migraine headaches. And the pain and sorrow of diseases like cancer and heart disease – He took them all upon Himself. Most people have no concept of the torment that ripped through Jesus’s body.
Can you imagine the pain that Jesus suffered with all our sin and sickness thrust upon Him? And this wasn’t just for the people He grew up with, His family and friends who He loved. This sacrifice was for the millions of people around the world who never met Him. All the malicious rapists and murderers that committed hideous and disgusting crimes who we cringe at and hate – Jesus had a love for their souls and took upon Himself even their sins so that if they ever repented and accepted His sacrifice, even they would be forgiven and saved.
When Jesus went to the cross He demonstrated the epitome of love. No other person on earth could ever do what Jesus did. No one would stand in the gap of a child murderer and say, “I’ll take his punishment so that he can stand before God and be clean and forgiven”. Most people have a hard time forgiving evil doers, let alone wanting God to forgive them and let them into Heaven, and no one in their right mind would ever take on their punishment for them.
But Jesus did because He is God’s Son, and He and our Father both love us with unconditional love. Jesus took our punishment before we even repented – before we even knew Him – and He’s taken the punishment for millions of people who refuse to repent and accept what He’s done. Jesus knew this would be the outcome and yet, He did it anyway. John 3:17 says that He wants everyone to be saved and He never excluded anyone from the blessing.
So, when we look to God we shouldn’t perceive Him as an idol to be worshipped, but as a spiritual being – that we all are – who loves us more than we could possibly know.
Obedience requires a constant chastening of the mind and a control over our actions, but love has no borders, no rules, and no conditions. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8 that love covers a multitude of sins. It doesn’t judge and it doesn’t condemn. Love is forgiving and gives the opportunity of a second chance.
When we see God as the father of love, and we see what He has done for us and we accept Him for who He is, God gives us His spirit to help us stay in touch with Him. Romans 5:5 says that the love of God is in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It’s not through our acts of obedience but through the committment of our hearts that unites us with God through His Spirit.
Even in our natural lives it’s easy for us to love and bless our own children, but we don’t have that same feeling towards the children of the neighborhood or of other communities. Just as our children are bonded to us through our relationship with them, so are we bonded to our Heavenly Father through our relationship with Him. And His Spirit is in us and fills us with the love that God has always had for us so that we can also love Him.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” … 1 John 4:10