Articles » Do I love God
In our congregation we often sing a song which is one of my favourites. The first line begins, “Just let me say how much I love you…” It speaks of seeing Jesus face to face, of hearing his finest whisper, of finding him in the desert, of longing for him with all my heart. It’s definitely a “feel good” song, with beautiful, even passionate words, and a very singable tune.
But it sometimes gives me a twinge of conscience. Do I really love God? Can I truthfully whisper Amen after the last line? Yes, the Bible tells me in many places that he loves me. But do I love him? And if I do, how would I know?
In one of his appearances to the disciples after his resurrection, Jesus asked Peter this question three times. Characteristically, Peter got a bit impatient. “Lord you know all things. You know that I love you,” he answered (John 21:15-17). That worked fine for Peter. He really did know Jesus first hand. He had talked with him, argued with him, even defended him with a sword. He had seen and touched and heard Jesus.
But what about people like me, who have only known him through the written word? Is it possible to love someone you’ve never seen with your eyes and heard with your ears?
Many of us will remember the song from the movie Fiddler on the roof. Tevye and Golde have five daughters, and two of them are begging for their approval to marry the men of their choice, rather than following the traditional practice of going along with the local matchmaker. When Tevye objects, they plead, “But I love him.” This gets the man wondering whether his wife loves him. “Do you love me?” he asks tentatively. Golde takes a deep breath and replies; “For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After 25 years, why talk about love right now?” Tevye answers, “Yes, I know, but do you love me?” Again she lists all her daily activities and concludes with, “If that’s not love, what is?”
He appreciated all these things she did, but he wanted a confession of love, which in the end she did express.
We all differ in temperament and personality, and we have many different ways of showing love. Some of us use words, others gifts and acts of kindness. But mostly we love to spend time with our loved ones. As parents we love our children. We talk to them, and talk about them to our friends. We are concerned about their lives and happiness.
My husband and I have our best conversations early in the morning after a good cup of coffee. And what do we talk about most of the time? About what we are currently studying in the Bible, about the meaning of certain scriptures, often about articles submitted for this magazine and quite frequently about the sermon we heard last week. And, come to think of it, often about our own attitudes and words, and how they stack up against God’s instruction.
When we talk with our closest friends, we find that our most enjoyable conversations are about God, encouraging each other in hard times. Often a point under discussion will have us poring over a certain verse in the Bible. We all did a bit of stargazing recently, and a particularly bright star turned out to be Venus, with Jupiter just “close by.” One of us just had to say “How great is God and how small we are, and how wonderful that God even takes notice of us.”
Somehow, God seems to play a very important role in our lives. He infiltrates into all our activities. And didn’t Jesus say, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks?”
If Jesus should ask me, “Do you love me,” how could I answer? Could I say, “For 40 years I’ve read your word, prayed to you, gone to church, sung your praises, talked about you, served your people. I have even been considered a fool for you. If that’s not love, what is?”
And if he should ask the question again, as he did to Peter, what could I say? I guess it would be, “You know everything Lord. You know I love you.”