Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him (Jesus) with this question: “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.” -Matthew 22:35-38
The more quiet time I spend with God, the more the message of love rings in my ears and touches my heart. In silence, God is our only resource. I realized this several years ago when I went in for a breast biopsy after a suspicious mammogram. My husband was very supportive and went with me. Others were praying for me. However, when I was laying in the silence of the examining room, it was just me and God. When I relaxed and turned to Him, His love overwhelmed me and my love for Him became very real.
Unfortunately, it often takes these types of jarring experiences to allow God to penetrate our hearts with His love. Lots of people share with me that they hate silence and they have a lot of trouble being still. If its in stillness that we get the most profound experience of God’s love, is it any wonder that its hard? Satan doesn’t want us to be in touch with God’s love, conveyed constantly to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to stay busy, to work to control everything that scares us, and to be distracted.
Without a sense of God’s deep love for us, there is no way we can fully love others, especially those we find different from us or difficult. There’s no way we can let our guard down enough to really allow others into our hearts. Its too scary. That’s why, according to Jesus, loving our neighbors comes after loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind. When we are secure in our sense of God’s love for us – really secure – we can allow our hearts to be touched deeply by the needs of others. Until then, others’ pain, needs, and desires scare us and we seek to protect ourselves.
Jesus was right. Loving God and experiencing God’s grace allows us to love others. It is also the only sound basis for us reading, understanding, and applying Scripture. Jesus said this to the Pharisees – those who thought they understood Scripture perfectly, but were not basing their understanding on love – in Matthew 22:38.
We don’t have enough quiet in the world we live in and we often don’t make it a priority to spend time with God when we don’t have an agenda. That’s why fear, not love, is the underlying theme of the stories we see in today’s headlines. Regardless of your political affiliation and what you choose as your source for updates, it is obvious that fear is ruling our world. We are not secure in our sense of God’s love, provision, and power. We are trying to control everything ourselves instead of loving others – even our enemies – and working with them to solve the BIG problems we face.
I realize that some of you are thinking that I am an idealist and out of touch with reality. I know there are many dangers in the world and enemies who seek to destroy! I understand this and I get scared too. But when our responses of choice are fighting, controlling, and protecting, we are not allowing God to speak to us and work through us. We are getting in the way!
In silence, God is love and peace is possible. In silence we hear the cries of the impoverished, oppressed, and abused. In silence we are convicted of the roles we play in the Sin of the world. In silence God gives us direction and purpose. In silence, God reassures us that regardless of what happens in this world, HIS LOVE WINS and that we are safe. I encourage you to spend more time with God in silence and let His amazing love pour over you. It will make all the difference in who you are, what you think, and how you respond to the challenges of life.