“Do you really love God?” It was the drummer at a Christian concert who had come to the mic to ask the question. I was probably seventeen and a junior in high school as I sat in the Archbold High School Gymnasium for the concert. I remember thinking, “I believe in God and I am trying to follow Him, but do I love Him?” I wasn’t sure I could say that I felt that for Him.
Let me pause my story for a minute to explain something I have learned since that time. Jesus defined love as something far more than a mushy feeling. In fact, He told us how to love, stating, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” ( John 14:15). He also said, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10). So Jesus defined love pretty clearly. To love Him is to obey Him. If you want to read more, Jesus gives some wonderful insight to Himself in the gospel of John, chapters 14 and 15.
Now back to my story.
The drummer in the band went on to explain that at one point He had believed in God, but he didn’t think he felt love for God. The lack of emotion seemed to plague him until he began to give up things he wanted in order to obey Christ. From there His love for Christ began to grow to the point he could truly say he loved God with his emotions.
I don’t remember what I gave up, but I remember I decided to give something to Him and see what happened. You know what? I changed. I began to see that as I gave up what I wanted in order to please God, I saw my love for Him grow. My life since that time has been a series of lessons in trusting Him in every situation. Often I’ve gotten it wrong the first time…and the second. God has been patient with me and has allowed me to grow, and as I have grown, my love for God has grown too.
Some people refer to God’s kingdom as the upside-down kingdom. That’s because there are so many times you would expect one result but you get just the opposite. The first become last, the last become first, the weak are made strong, in giving we receive. By giving up my own plans to obey Christ, I experienced what Jesus meant when He said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” Matthew 16:25. I have truly found myself and my life the more I have found myself in Him. That is the sacrifice of love.