Loving God, Part 2: The Impediment to Loving God
© 2004 by R W Glenn
As Jonathan Edwards has rightly said, “That religion which God requires, and willaccept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above astate of indifference: God, in His word, greatly insists upon it, that we be in goodearnest, ‘fervent in spirit,’ and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion.”
The reason why Edwards’ assessment is correct is because it is what the Bibleteaches. Turn in your Bibles with me to
1 Peter 1:8:
And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do notsee Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible andfull of glory.
What is so remarkable about this passage is that the Apostle Peter is settingforth joy and love to the Lord as proof of the genuineness of his audience’s faith. Theupshot of this is that holy affections like joy and love are essential components of trueChristianity. In other words, love
Christ and inexpressible joy
Christ arecharacteristics of the genuine believer.Now for our purposes it is our love for Christ that is significant here. If biblicallove has emotional content
if biblical love is what is characteristic of the genuinebeliever, then if we do not feel love for Christ we cannot be believers.And even though true believers are
as those with love for God, weare also
to love him. We have quoted the great commandment already:“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all yourmind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). And Psalm 31:23 says, “O love theLORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful And fully recompensesthe proud doer.”Since, then, we are both
by love for God and
to loveGod, then we should expect to find ourselves in a condition in which we both alreadylove the Lord and at the same time need to love him more. The fact that God wouldcommand us to love him implies at the very least that our love for him can wane. Andwe all know by experience that it
wane. I have shared with you how there is not aday that goes by that I do not find myself literally begging the Lord for more love to him.Daily my prayers express the same sentiment as Elizabeth Prentiss’ “More Love toThee”:
More love to thee, O Christ, more love to thee! Hear thou the prayer I make on bended knee; This is my earnest plea,More love, O Christ, to thee,More love to thee, more love to thee!
Daily I am saying something to the Lord like these lyrics with which you’re all familiar:
Jonathan Edwards, “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections” in
The Works of Jonathan Edwards
, Vol1, edited by Edward Hickman (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998 reprint of the 1834 edition), 237.