This may be a question that has plagued you as it has me. Love is a word that gets tossed around like a faceless, nameless ragdoll. Everyone seems sure they know what it is, but it is really left up to the person holding it to define.
So, if we are defining love according to cultural norms, loving Jesus could mean a variety of things. This is true because on any given day, loving anyone or anything can mean a plethora of things.
As with all of the Christian life we must let the Bible define our understanding of not only what love is, but what it means to love Jesus. I wish Jesus had been clear about this. Oh wait, He was! What are some ways in which Jesus speaks about loving Him?
You must love Him above all.
In Matthew 10:37, Jesus states, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Whom do you love more?
You must love Him with all you are.
In Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus, who is God, states, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” What or who captures your heart, soul and mind?
You must love Him by obeying Him.
In John 14:15 Jesus states, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Are you loving Jesus by obeying Him?
The grace of God through Jesus Christ and the indwelling Spirit gives us the ability to love Jesus. It may not always feel the way we imagine love must feel, but the clarity with which Jesus speaks informs our thinking about what loving Jesus really means.
Here’s the rub: We don’t always want to love Jesus. These truths are hard and living comfortable lives according to our flesh is easy. It’s hard to put Christ first when He calls us to love Him more than anyone or anything and those people or objects are right there; they’re tangible. It’s hard to believe that obedience produces lasting joy, when the temporary pleasure of sin is right there. It’s easy to obtain. But the promise of God through Christ for those who are His is we will find that we do love Him when we search out who or what we love more, repent, and adjust our focus back towards Christ. We will find we do love Him when we see what we have temporarily been captured by, repent, and are captured once again by His goodness and grace. We will find we really love Him when we equate love with what He equates love with and obey His commands.
This necessitates having our wants, desires and wills lined up under His, which comes by way of staying in His Word and regular prayer. It comes by asking others to speak into our lives and help point out where we are falling short of loving Jesus. It comes by remembering that when we do fall short, He has loved us first and therefore we can run to Him and the fellowship of love is not lost, but can be regained by His grace and forgiveness.