Loving Jesus

Week before last, I was in a meeting with a group of church planters.  I love being around these guys.  It is refreshing and uplifting to participate in their regular gatherings.  One of the things I enjoy is the transparency and openness they have with each other. At this particular meeting, their discussion centered on two questions, “Do I love Jesus? And, how have I loved Him this week?”

Listening to their discussion gave me an idea for a follow up to last week’s Encourage article, “God Sightings.” In that article, I asked if we had seen Jesus in our activities the previous week.  After participating in the church planters’ dialogue, I was left with two more questions. If we see Jesus, do we love Him?  And, if we do love Him, how do we love Him?

The young ministers in the church planter group answered these questions with remarkable honesty, refreshing candor, and surprising vulnerability.  They agreed that one of the ways they express their love for the Lord Jesus is to spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study.  However, finding and guarding the time for a devotional life is a constant challenge given the expectations and demands placed upon them by their young congregations, and their growing families.

Since that meeting, these questions have continued to roll around in my mind, “How do I love Jesus, and how have I loved Him this week?”  It is true; one way to express our love for our children, and our spouses is to spend time with them.  Using that same logic, we can conclude that spending time with Jesus in prayer and Bible study is one way to express our love for Him.  However, loving God seems to require more than just spending a few hours a week with Him, and while it is true, a regular devotional time is vital for spiritual formation, I’m not sure it is the best way to love Jesus.   In fact, biblical speaking, loving Jesus seems to be in a category all by itself.

Here’s what Jesus said, “If you love Me, obey My commandments.” (John 14:15 – NLT).  Later, He explained the love relationship between His Father and His followers in this way, “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.” When Jesus talked about the final judgment, and the division of the “sheep” and “goats,” the criteria for the separation of those who “inherit the Kingdom” and those who do not, is this:  “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

The expression or evidence of our love for Jesus is not how much time we spend with Him, how often we pray, or how much Scripture we read.  As Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” (John 13:35 – NLT)

Here’s how I see it. The time we spend in prayer and studying God’s Word is special, not because we are loving on Jesus, but because He is loving on us.  How do we love on Him? By loving on the “the least of these.”

So, if you saw Jesus in one of the “least of these,” what did you do?  How did you love on Jesus this week?

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About Larry Doyle

Larry is the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association. He has served overseas with the International Mission Board (SBC), in Charlotte NC as the Director of International Ministries, and as a pastor in North Carolina and Kentucky. He is married to Rebekah Hill, a native of Greensboro NC, and has two children and three grandchildren.
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