Sometimes people think the big question is, “Do you believe in God?” but it is not. Jesus says the first question is, “Do you love God?” Our attention needs to go beyond us, beyond our families, beyond our jobs, and beyond our church to God.
Love God with all that we are, do, feel, and think. If we make loving God our goal, we will move from the many things to seeking the one grace. We will be free from the compulsion of the world and set our hearts on the only necessary thing. Augustine said, “Love God and do what you want.” If God is at the center, the rest will follow.
Loving God is the central teaching of Christianity. We open the Bible and read that Matthew writes that Jesus said what he had read in Deuteronomy, which is that Moses said that God said, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.”
The Bible is not an instruction manual in which each line is of equal importance. The sayings of scripture spin around the love of God like planets around the sun, and every verse is judged by its proximity to this truth. Nothing is greater, says Jesus, says Moses, says God. These words provide the standard within the standard: “Love God.” Jesus’ words are the scripture by which scripture is measured.
St. Augustine wrote the first textbook on teaching the Bible. The scriptures may be confusing, Augustine admits, and preachers make mistakes, but if you interpret in such a way as to build up the love of God, you have the essentials right. Augustine writes, “If it seems to you that you have understood the divine scriptures in such a way that by this understanding you do not build up this love of God, then you have not understood them.”
What you know or think you know, what you do or wish you could do, is measured against this standard: “Love God.”
We have to find our own best ways. Some people love God in music, some in the harvesting of a garden, some in sharing freshly baked bread, and others in affectionate words to a friend. Utter your own prayer, in the language of your own heart. Set aside a time and place to give God your undivided attention. Be mad about God in the silence of your own soul. Tell God that you are crazy about God in words and actions. Be grateful to God for the closeness of God and the greatness of God. Do not try to love God like you have heard other people do. Let your adoration be your own. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength. Come to Plymouth and worship. Live as if God is the only one watching.