Today’s post originally started as a post about Self-Love but it felt out of order from what I have been building over the month about love. How can I talk about self-love without talking about God first?
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment…”
Why is this the first AND greatest commandment? Because it sets the foundation for understanding the entire Bible. God presents Himself as the root of all existence. If you don’t love the creator, how can you love the creations? All creations are an extension of the Creator. All things flow from God.
To love the creations but hate the Creator is an attempt to divorce the creation from its source, which cannot be done. The separate the two is in an severance of a link to the origin; often an absorption and attempt to place yourself as source. It’s unnatural. That is why Loving God is first. You love God first so you can learn how to love the things from Him.
Conveniently, this is the hardest commandment for a non-believer. How do I love God with my heart, soul, and mind when I don’t know if you exist?
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
1 Corinthians 2:14
The irony behind this is that if you need to be convinced, you won’t experience Him like believers do. I was always told that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. The Spirit will not force anything. If you invite the Holy Spirit in your life, it will enter. If you already made your mind up that it doesn’t make sense, the Spirit won’t force you to believe. Jesus did not perform miracles for those who did not believe.
The only way to experience God and His magnitude is to step out on faith and try. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is used over and over again as the currency of the kingdom of God. You only need a little (a mustard seed) to have it grow into something mighty.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:1-3, 6
I always believed in God but I didn’t go much deeper than that. You could call it belief by tradition more than something I understood, aligned, and agreed with. I said grace before a meal, “Thank You Jesus” when I was relieved, never touched a Ouija board, knew a handful of scriptures, went to church on special occasions, never purposely hurt others, and avoid things that seemed demonic. Traditional Black American upbringing.
I didn’t get baptized until I was 20 because I didn’t get it. Why did I need to get baptized?What’s the importance of declaring Jesus, your Lord and Savior? If God wanted us to read the Bible, why is it so hard to get through? If God is all good, why do bad things happen? I had all those questions but no answers. Even then, something was compelling me to do it. I got baptized on April 27, 2008. It was a great feeling for a couple days, weeks, and months but it faded because I had no clue on what to do.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
I had moments of closeness with God. A lot of these occurred near times of me dating a woman with stronger faith than me. They taught me the most basic things I needed to know and renewed my faith when I was going to give up. They gave me the best gift a man could ask for but we didn’t stay together (Otherwise I would be married with kids right now). God was planning on them being training wheels and it took me 10 years to finally ride comfortably without the help.
I would go through moments of extreme closeness with God and then a lull. Life would pick up or things would fall apart. All I knew is that I believed and wanted to lean on Him instead of myself. If God existed, which I believed He did, there had to be more to life than stress and struggle. I and the rest of the world wasn’t having the best time doing it our way, there had to be something more. All I knew was that it was worth a try. If Christianity and Christ didn’t work, didn’t bring forth change, at least I knew it didn’t work and could search somewhere else for something else.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”
There are a thousand Bible Apps and ways to read the bible, but all it took for me to start. I started to fall in love with the Bible. I always loved stories about heroes and goodness overcoming evil. I couldn’t believe I didn’t read the stories of love, espionage, wisdom, and war myself. The more I read, the more I started to connect and identify with the characters. The more I connected, the more I wanted to have Him bless me in a similar way. I developed a crush on God because I never felt love like His before.
I found myself quoting the Bible. I was excited to get home and read before bed. What was next for David, Moses, or Nehemiah? I was hooked. I found myself trying to grasp this God without listening to others. Now I get why nobody could explain it to me. It was too much to explain. At the same time, I then had personal identity questions lingering. By the time I finished the Bible, I truly wondered if I was worthy of that type of love. Was that the reason I struggled so much because I was wasn’t loved by God like the characters in the Bible. Was I not chosen too?
The scary thing about falling in love is that you don’t know if you will be loved back.
Find out tomorrow as I go into how God’s love taught me how to love myself.
Turn Your Brightness Up!