Do You Really Love Me?
By Gordon Ferguson
Wisdom knows that love supersedes wisdom. As 1 Corinthians 13:2 teaches–We might fathom all mysteries and knowledge… but if we don’t have love, we don’t have anything.
In this post, Gordon Ferguson shares a practical application on what it means to love God.
That title contains a question asked of Peter by Jesus (John 21:17). Peter was smitten by the question, the context shows. There are perhaps some subtleties involved in the Greek language here, but the question is no doubt a probing one. Jesus said that love for God must involve heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). In light of that, do I really love him? Do you? A probing question indeed!
I was raised in a legalistic religious setting and rebelled against it. Both the setting and my rebellion produced a lot of guilt inside me that has honestly been difficult to get rid of. It is easy for me to question my love for God, and honestly, his love for me. At best, I’m an imperfect being, try as I might. I am one of the crowd having what has been described as “accused conscience.” Therefore, it is easy to wonder whether I’ve done enough or been good enough to say honestly that I really love God.
I think back to a conversation with Wyndham that led to a pearl of wisdom that has helped me with my guilty conscience struggles. We were discussing a leader whom we both knew, although Wyndham knew him far better than I did. The person had experienced some serious marriage problems and at the end of that painful trail, had decided to leave God. As we discussed his plight and his actions, Wyndham said something like this: “You know, I think maybe the best way to show God that we love him is to hang in no matter what we are going through.”
As I thought about it, I had one of those “Aha” moments. Agape love is not just a feeling and perhaps not even primarily a feeling – it must include actions, especially when those actions are hard to muster. What loving parent ever wanted to get up in the middle of the night to clean the floor after a sick child emptied their stomach on it? Similar examples could be multiplied.
Here is where the definition of a true friend comes in. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). When I think about who my real friends are, I think about those who have seen the worst of me and still stay with me. Wyndham has seen me at my best and at my worst, and his friendship remains constant.
His practical explanation of what love for God really means has been demonstrated in his love for me. If there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), Wyndham is that friend. Using him as a human starting point, it shouldn’t be difficult to imagine God doing at least as well as him! Of course, God is infinitely better at loving than even Wyndham, but Wyndham being able to love me at my worst helps me to understand and accept God’s love – even at my worst.
God’s Word comes in at least two forms: the written form and the human example of what is written. Jesus was the ultimate human example of God’s heart; those like Jesus are that real life example in the present tense. Okay, Lord, I may not feel all that I ought to feel, but I confessed Jesus as Lord, and I will never back down! Do I love you? Imperfectly, but yes. Thank you, Wyndham!
So encouraging especially to those of us with guilty consciences and who don’t always feel like we should. Thank you!