How many times have you heard a person claim that he has “accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior?” Have you ever asked him what it means that Jesus is his Lord? Have you ever asked him how Jesus is his Savior? What makes him his Savior? And what does it mean that he is his personal Lord and Savior?
How many times have you heard a person open a prayer with the words “Dear God?” What do those words really mean? Why do we begin our prayers with an address? Is this necessary or merely customary?
How many times have you heard a person thank God that Jesus is present, for “where two are more are gathered together, Jesus is there?” Have you ever asked him why Jesus is only there where two or more are gathered? Have you ever asked if he is present in a more special way when people are gathered versus when they are alone?
The fact is, there are many times when we flippantly speak of God and his attributes without knowing or perhaps even caring to understand what we are saying. We repeat things we have heard, but have never thought about. But what is incredible to me is that we don’t need to understand all of these things to be God’s children. We do not need to devote ourselves to endless studies in theology and doctrine in order to be saved. God sees and knows and values the heart more than the mind. Yet if we want to grow deeper in our love for God, we need to begin to understand these things. We need to grow deeper in our knowledge of him.
On that day that I got married, I loved my wife deeply. On our wedding day, as I looked at her walking down the aisle towards me, I never would have believed that I could love her more than I did at that very moment. I had known her for four years and had spent thousands of hours just being with her, listening to her talk and watching her interact with other people. And now she was walking towards me, looking absolutely radiant, and intending to pledge her life to me. I began to sob like a child and felt my heart would nearly burst with the love I felt for her. But you know what? More than a decade into that marriage I can honestly say I love her far more now than I did when we got married. Why is that? It is simply that I know her so much better now. The more I learn about her, the more I know her. The more I know her, the more I love her.
I use that illustration to show that you can really only love God inasmuch as you know him. When you are an unbeliever and do not know God you cannot love him at all. When some day you die and go to be with him, you will know him in a perfect way, and will accordingly love him in a perfect way. The time between when you come to love him and you are called to be with him is your opportunity to experience that love and get just a foretaste of heaven here on earth.
I love God more now than I did when I first believed. As a child I loved God with a childlike love, but I barely knew him. I can think back to distinct moments as I grew older when God taught me something new and amazing about himself. I can remember moments where something hit me like a lightning bolt and I was awakened to a new reality about God that I had not known before. There were times when my whole body broke into chills as I grew in my knowledge of my Creator. There were other times when I broke into tears as I began to realize the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice for me or the vast depths of his love for me, the sinner. As I learned about my God I learned to love him more. As I learned about my God I had to love him more!
You can be a true believer and know almost nothing about God. The man who hung on the cross beside Christ new little more than that Christ was the Son of God and that God had forgiven his sins. And that was enough. But if you want to love God more you need to know him more. I know that I’m a mere preschooler when it comes to knowing God. I look at others and see some who are in primary school, some who are in high school and some who must be about ready to finish up their post-graduate studies. And how I yearn to know him that much, knowing that the love I feel for him now, as great as it may be, is nothing more than a child’s love! I long to love him, and therefore long to know him. And I look forward to the day when I will know him even as I am known by him, that I may love him with the perfect love with which he loves me.