Have you ever struggled with loving Jesus? I have. And even to this day, I still do sometimes. There are days when I struggle to grow in my love for Christ, and even days when I question my love for Him.
On many occasions, I see myself prioritising the other ‘loves’ in my life, pursuing the pleasures of my own sinful desires and neglecting to spend time immersed in His word. This has the effect of continually elevating these sinful desires and slowly diminishing my view of and desire for Jesus.
As Christians, we are commanded to love God and to love Jesus with all of our being (Matt 10:37, 22:36-39). This refers to a kind of radical love. A love that surpasses all. In Philippians 3:8, Paul shows us what it means to love and to treasure Jesus above all else, as he counts “everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Love is more than a feeling. It is grounded in something that is real. King David declares his love for God in Psalm 18:1-3, a love that is founded in the nature of who God is – an almighty God who provides peace and salvation to those who call upon Him, and is worthy to be praised.
How can we gain such a love for Jesus? Are we capable of it? May I suggest three ways to deepen our love for Jesus.
- Fixing our eyes on the cross of Jesus. It is at the cross that we see the ultimate manifestation of God’s love for us. 1 John 4:19 reminds us that “we love because he first loved us”. God made the first move. He loved us even when we didn’t (Rom 5:8). And in His great love, God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to bear our sins and redeem us from God’s fair judgement of condemnation. Jesus, who was both sinless and perfectly righteous, bore our shame and took our place on the cross.
This is indeed an amazing love that inspires and enables us to respond in love towards Him. The more we recognise the extent of our sin and what we deserve, the greater we will comprehend the extent of God’s love and grace towards us, and this will compel us to love and treasure Jesus more than anything we hold dear in this world.
- Meditating on God’s Word, and prayer. Engaging in Christian disciplines, such as studying and meditating on God’s word, and praying according to His word daily, enables us to deepen our understanding of who God is, and constantly reminds us of what He has done for us through Jesus Christ. It is no wonder the Psalmist proclaims that “blessed is the man… his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). Abiding in God’s word and spending time with Him in prayer is not meant to be burdensome, but to bring unspeakable joy and delight in Him.
As Bryan Chapell puts it in his book Unlimited Grace: The ultimate purpose of the Christian disciplines is to fill our hearts with love for Christ so that all other loves are displaced and diminished in power.
- Loving His people. The second great command that Jesus gave in Matt 22:39 is, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” In John 13:34-35, Jesus commands us to love others like He loves us and it is in our love for one another that we are known as His disciples. God’s command is for us to love others. To love God is to love His people.
But how will loving others result in a deeper love for Jesus? The more we reflect Christ’s love to one another and immerse ourselves in the loving fellowship of His people, the more we grow in understanding of His love towards us, being transformed to love Him and others more.
Will it be tough to love others? Certainly. But we are not without help. In the midst of our imperfect love for imperfect creatures, Jesus has shown us His example of a perfect love in His death on the cross. And it is not by human effort alone that we learn to love. Jesus assures us in His word that He will help us if we turn to Him in prayer (John 15:7).
As John Piper puts it, “Christianity is deeply and most fundamentally a new birth — a deep, profound transformation of what we treasure, what we love.” Is Jesus the greatest treasure that you seek? “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34).
– Tan Jiayi