Jesus said the two greatest commands are: to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). Our best energy should be used in the pursuit of these two commands. I want to take a moment to offer one reflection on how to do that.
Take a look at 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.”
It’s short, simple, and straight to the point. But don’t miss the point! We love God because he first loved us. There is sequence in this verse. Our love for God comes after his love for us. Our love for God is a response to his love for us. Here’s what’s really cool about this verse from 1 John. In 1 John, the apostle points to a single event as the climax of God’s love for us. This event portrays, in all its glory, God’s love for us. That event? The cross:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin” (1 John 4:10).
It is in the cross of Christ that God’s love for us is supremely demonstrated. If our love for God is a response to his love for us, then we need to see God’s love for us in all its brilliance and that means pondering deeply the cross of Christ. We are not going to love God the way he wants us to love him without first getting a grip on his love for us. And the only way to do that is to ponder deeply the cross of Jesus Christ.
The best way to do that is by paying close attention to the numerous reasons the biblical writers give for why Jesus died. I’m giving away two copies of a book entitled, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, because it helped me come to see just how deep God’s love for me is, supremely demonstrated in the cross of Jesus.