This is difficult to admit but I have a hard time loving Jesus with even a small measure of His love for me. At times, I feel like loving a God that I cannot see is akin to loving a pen pal. You know that they are there somewhere. But your relationship would be easier if you could just reach out and touch the person. Why does God play this game of hide and seek with us? He gives just a small glimpse of Himself and then quickly hurries away out of sight.
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters, “You must have often wondered why the Enemy (God) does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment…Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless.”
Lewis aptly points out the power of God’s presence. God wants us to choose Him of our own free will not because we are knocked over by His mainfest presence. By removing the sweetness of His divine presence, God tests and refines the purity of our love and devotion for Him.
Lewis pointed out that, “Our love for God determines our spiritual health.” Yet, we cannot truly love God by our own power. The apostle John wrote that Jesus gave us the power to become the sons of God. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, including really love. Men cannot manufacture love for God.
Many Christians flounder around in doubt and self loathing because they cannot seem to reproduce on their own what they know they should give God. They run away from God because they feel like a failure. God is the only source of true love. Jesus gives us the ability to truly love as we submit to His power. I don’t believe that a person can really demonstrate or have love for another apart from God. Sure, a person may appear to love. But deep down somewhere, there are selfish motives and human impurities. Only God is the source of pure, undefiled love.
God’s love is amazing because He knows everything about everyone, even our deepest, darkest secret sins. The Bible explains that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God loved us first. But He didn’t stop there. Then He forgave us and offers us the power to live a holy life. And for those who overcome the old nature, He will give treasures, rights, and authority beyond our ability to think or even imagine.
So if we can’t make this agape love on our own, what do we do? It starts with admitting our limitations, asking for God’s power and then acting in faith. This is not a passive love obtained by osmosis. It requires brokenness, faith and action.
Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor act as if you did. As soon a we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him…They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feelings in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did…Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?’ When you have found the answer, go and do it.”