When I was a teenager, I asked my Dad how to grow in my love for Jesus. I followed Jesus, but I didn’t “love” him. I wanted to love with all my heart and with all my soul – not just with my mind. Although I knew all about Jesus’ historical salvation work on the cross, I wanted to “feel” his love for me. I felt that if I could “feel” his love for me, I’d naturally “feel” more love for him. But I wondered, should I ever aim at feelings?
Of course! I had the “activity” and “commitment” of love, but I wanted “passion” to go along with it!
Passion gives us the power to overcome disappointment, go the extra mile, walk into dangerous waters and leap tall buildings with a single bound! Passion keeps our hearts full of hope, and passion creates joy in the journey! Passion is the secret sauce that turns our “understanding” of God into a movement that transforms the world. We need passion. Sometimes, we need to feel the love!Passion is the secret sauce that turns our “understanding” of God into a movement that transforms the world. We need passion. Click To Tweet
Jesus evidently agrees, for he told us to love him – not just with our minds, but also with our hearts and souls.
Where do we start?
There are patterns of love we can follow:
I Corinthians 13 says that love looks like patience and kindness, and resists envy or boastfulness. It says that love doesn’t easily anger, and doesn’t point to self. Love doesn’t hold on to other’s debts and celebrates truth. Love protects, trusts and never gives up.
These are habits you and I can and should employ. But do they automatically help us feel love?
This list (and others like it) have great power to help us act lovingly. These patterns help us do that which will help others feel loved. And hopefully, they reciprocate. Because, when someone speaks kind things to and about you, you feel love! Hopefully, there is someone telling you they love you, surprising you with something you need and don’t deserve, or standing alongside you when you feel defeated.
But what about God?
But how do we find Jesus’ love “palpable”? How can his actions from so long ago jump across the centuries in a way that feels active and real today? How does God’s love for us turn into something that moves from our minds to our hearts and souls? How does it turn into passion?
After John the Baptizer told his followers about Jesus – they were intrigued. They went to Jesus and asked “Where are you staying?” Jesus responded “Come and you will see.”
He meant more than “see my logistical reality” but “see me”. They spent that day with him, not looking at the place where he stayed, but with him.
Then Jesus met Philip and invited him to follow. He was so enamored by Jesus that he told Nathanael about him and Nathanael promptly responded “Can anything good come from there?” Philip said “Come and see.”
Something happens when you come and see Jesus. You know what happens? Love happens.
You just can’t help it. When you hang out with Jesus, you see how clearly he loves you. How he speaks words of encouragement. How he nudges you into what is best. How he forgives your failures. How he finds joy in you. How he stands with you when your heart breaks.
When you just hang out with Jesus, you feel his patience. You realize that his gentle conviction reveals his kindness. You marvel in how Jesus doesn’t hold on to your debts, how he protects and never gives up on you. And you find yourself loving him.
At Detroit Dinner Church, we don’t start by asking people to follow Jesus. We start and spend most of our time helping people come and see. See what? Jesus.
The stories of Jesus become our foundation. We tell them. We celebrate them. We stand amazed at such a person that loves and acts like Jesus did and does. And we can’t help but rest in the strong love of the one who sticks closer than a brother. He becomes not a truth to learn, but a person we follow.
We long for his presence. Jesus dominates our thoughts, whether we are at the Dinner Church table, at home or at the park. And because of what we see, we lean into obeying and serving him more each day.
Stories of Jesus are enough
I spent a period of my ministry telling everyone within earshot: “You’ve got to come and see my church!” I was intensely proud of our cool coffee center that dominated the lobby. The big screen up front proved we were relevant, and our band rocked. And best? My preaching was full of personal stories that helped everyone connect and enjoy.If Jesus isn’t the point when I preach, I’m wasting time. Click To Tweet
But more and more I’m learning that Jesus is really enough. I still tell personal stories – because Jesus is my friend and he interacts with me. But if Jesus isn’t the point when I preach, I’m wasting time. After all, we don’t need more people that love Mark. We need more people that love Jesus.