Among our friends in ministry is one who literally died, appeared before Jesus in heaven and was sent back to Earth to complete his service to our Lord. Now he touches untold thousands for Christ.
In relating his death experience, he says that he found himself in heaven in a line of people who were standing on a moving path. One by one, each person in the line appeared before Jesus. All those on the path were dressed in white and were exceedingly happy.
On a parallel path moving toward the Lord were people who were exceedingly unhappy. These were clothed in that to which they had devoted their lives. Each was given the opportunity to look at Christ and He at them before the path turned downward.
When our friend appeared before Jesus, he was asked the one question that everyone in the line had been asked: “Did you learn to love?”
The Lord had not asked, “Did you ‘do’?” or even “Did you ‘go’?”–but “Did you love?” In other words, our friend was asked if, while he was on Earth, he had fulfilled the two greatest commandments: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength'” and “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Mark 12:30-31, NKJV).
Unable to Love
Until I heard the story of my friend’s experience, I did not realize that I was to seek to fulfill these commandments above all else–and the first one above all. However, I knew I was not able to correctly answer the “test” question put to all believers when they appeared before Christ.
Not only was I aware of my failure in this area, but I knew that I was incapable of loving God with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength. I confessed to my husband that I was unable to obey this most important commandment.
“Of course you can’t,” he answered calmly. “God must fulfill this through you.”
I sighed inwardly because I didn’t understand his answer. I saw that I couldn’t keep the first commandment, but I didn’t know how God would accomplish it through me either.
One day I stumbled upon the answer. Christianity is a way of life of supernaturally receiving that which we do not have and will never have in ourselves. Our Lord and Savior is to “be” and “do” everything within and through His disciples (see John 15:5; Rom. 15:18-19).
Only the Father can love the Son completely. Only the Son can return that love fully to the Father. Neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit has His own love. They love the Father and each other with the one, divine love issuing from the Father.
Only God can love God. His love has no limits. It was before all time and will be forever.
We ask that this eternal love of the Father for His Son be brought forth in us. We cannot originate it. But we experience it as if we did. Such is the mystery of God.
Obstacles to Love
The heart is the spiritual organ that may be flooded with the love of God or be cold and distant toward Him. That is the reason it is named first in the greatest commandment: “‘You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart‘” (Mark 12:30, emphasis added).
Ultimately, God’s love cannot be hindered. But we can slow the flow of it through us if we allow any of the three obstacles described below to prevent our hearts from being filled with love for Christ.
Unbelief. The beginning point of our falling in love with Jesus is to trust the Holy Spirit to put Christ’s own faith within our hearts to believe the Scripture. The primary word Jesus spoke concerning our falling in love with Him is John 17:26: “‘I [Jesus] have made You [Father] known to them [the disciples] and I will continue to do so, in order that the love You [Father] have for Me may be in them and so that I also may be in them'” (Good News Bible).
Faith must always be the first aspect in any spiritual advance. We cannot love Jesus until we trust Him to be in us what He requires of us (see 1 Cor. 1:30). Christianity is not a way of life in which we “do” more and more and therefore appear to be more Christlike. Christianity is a way of life in which we get out of the way more and more and allow Christ to manifest Himself through us (see 2 Cor. 4:10-11).
Faith and love are bound together in the Word. Faith works through love. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6, NKJV, emphasis added). Fortunately faith and love are gifts given to us because we are in Christ Jesus.