To know Him is to Love Him

"But you, Bethleham Ephrathah*,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler
over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
Micah 5:2
Loving God
"When the Game is Over - It All Goes Back In The Box"
John Ortberg

Being rich toward God begins by giving to God that which he desires most of all. And what he desires most from you is you --your heart and devotion. Just as God can give us many gifts but the best gift is himself, so we can offer God our resources and acts of service, but the gift he desires most is us.

I think of Jesus' last conversation with his friend Peter. Peter was so human: he followed Jesus, served him, learned from him, doubted him, misunderstood him, praised him, and denied him, but Jesus' final question for his friend was only this: "Peter, do you love me?" Three times he asked Peter this question. He would go on to tell Peter what he wanted Peter to do, but what he wanted most was love. Augustine said that all ethics can be summed up in this: "Love God, and do what you will," for the soul that truly loves God will want to do what God loves. a sense the story of the Bible is the story of a single desire of God: the reason God created people is so he could be with us. In Eden he would come and walk with the man and women he had made, just to be with them. The after the fall, we experience separation from God. And it's as if from that moment that God was haunted by his desire to be with people. Many times in scripture we read that God would "be with" individuals: he would walk Enoch and Noah; he was with Abraham and Issac; he was with Joseph in slavery and in prison. He formed a nation so he could have people to be with: "Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them."

God still is not satisfied. He got an idea: "I'm going down." One day a baby was born in Bethlehem. He grew up and called any human beings who would to follow him. "He appointed twelve-designating them apostles--that they might be with him." And he made this offer: "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with them."

The lonely soul is poor. The "with-God" soul is rich. The reason God made you is because he wants to be with you. And we don't have to wait. It's as if each day God is saying, "I'd like to spend this day with you."

It's a funny thing. I believe in God. I believe there is no one else worth giving my life to. But sometimes, because I feel busy or hurried, or selfish, or just sinful--I want to make a counteroffer.

I cannot make myself love God more by sheer willpower. But I can choose to be with him. I ask him to go through the day with me when I wake up. I learn to see his goodness in creation and beauty. I take time to ask for his help as we work together. I see him in the people with whom I meet. I hear his voice in what I read. I ask his forgiveness for the many times I mess up. I thank him at the end of the day for his presence in it.

I can't make myself love God, but I can come to know him better. And because God is love, the more I come to know him, the more my love for him will grow. Love is a by-product of knowing. So I can spend this day loving God. And tomorrow I can seek to love him a little more. That is a life "rich toward God."

WHEN THE GAME IS OVER - IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX, John Ortberg, pages 28-30, ISBN #0-310-25350-0.

NIV Life Application Study Bible Note: * Ephrathah was the district in which Bethleham was located. This ruler is Jesus the Messiah, Micah accurately predicted Christ's birthplace hundreds of years before Jesus was born. The promise eternal King in David's line, who would come to live as a man, had been alive forever--"from of old, from ancient times." Although eternal, Christ entered human history, as a man Jesus of Nazareth. Micah 3:5, Zondervan Press.

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