This past weekend, I was honored to be a part of The Salvation Army USA Eastern Territory’s Jesus Theater Training weekend. On Saturday, I was asked to give the devotional thought and was lead to share the example of God perfect love. Below is a shortened version of what I shared with the group.
Take out a notebook or prayer journal and a pen, and draw a line vertically down the center of the page. We are going to separate the page into two different categories, of which I am going to share with you in a minute. When I tell you what the categories are, I want you to start writing the first thing that comes to mind: no editing yourself, no thinking ‘maybe I should write…‘ Don’t concentrate on what you think you should feel or understand, but write down the very first things that enter your mind.
Are you ready? At the top of the left column write:
God loves me.
What comes to mind immediately when you write that phrase? Take a few minutes to write and process, and come back to this when you’ve spent some time with that list.
On the right side column, I want to give you another prompt to concentrate on, again, writing the first things that come to mind without editing or concentrating on ‘should’ statements.
Perfect love is…
Take another few minutes with this and come back when you’re ready.
Now you have both sides of your paper filled, and I want you to know look critically at them. What is similar about each column? What’s different? When you wrote down God loves me, did that feel real? When you look at your list of what perfect love is, do you feel that perfect love from your Creator?
Spend a few minutes on another piece of paper, comparing your lists and processing with the Lord any contradictions between the two sides of your paper.
For the past few weeks, the Lord has been laying a specific scripture of passage on my heart that I would like to share with you: Matthew 22:34-40 (NRSV).
The Greatest Commandment
When the Pharisees heard that he (Jesus) had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is love–love with all your HEART, SOUL, and MIND. But how often do we bring our heart and soul into the equation? There is an old Sunday school chorus that we used to sing repeatedly when I was a child:
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me; the Bible tells me so.
How often do we get stuck up in this sentiment: we know that God loves us, because we’ve been told that God loves us, but when was the last time you asked Him for a ‘heart’ encounter, and experience of His love for you? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live fully and wholly encountering His love in every aspect of your being?
God’s love is perfect, which means that He loves us with every part of His being: He made each of us special, with a purpose, made to love Him and love others. And when we accept His perfect love for what it is–whole, complete, not depending on circumstance or action–we encounter the living God. And when we encounter Him, our ‘head love’ moves into our hearts and souls.
When we love Him with our entire being, we see others for what they are: children of God, loved by Him, and deserving of our love here on earth.
On your last piece of paper, I want you to spend a few more minutes processing with Him, but now I want you to ask two additional questions:
Father God, do you love me?
Father, how can I experience that love today?