A teenage girl, who has just started dating, asks her mother, or a son his father, “How do you know if you love someone?”
The mom or the dad, with all the wisdom in the world, gives some sort of answer that sometimes is really just quite silly. They might say, “Well, if you have a dizzy feeling when you are around someone, or if you feel a kind of sickness in your stomach, it means that you are falling in love.”
Perhaps their answer may not be quite as nonsensical as that, but the point is, very few people have a clear idea of what love is. Despite all of the studies about love and despite many people making millions of dollars teaching us about finding true love, the subject of love remains for many a very mysterious concept.
Why is it that we have come to have such a misunderstanding of love, and why is that we have mostly come to equate it with a feeling that is felt between two individuals?
Most of us may understand that the first crush that we had on someone was not really true love, but at the time, it may have seemed like it was. And quite frankly, the first feelings of attraction that we have for someone may indeed grow and become a lifelong commitment. But even taking this into consideration, we usually make a distinction between what it means to be infatuated with someone, rather than truly being in love.
Our Love for God
The same is true when we begin to talk about loving God. Often, we associate loving God with certain feelings we must have, or with some kind of emotional experience. We see this in some worship services in churches, where the leaders try to work up the emotional level of the congregation in order to have them experience what they call “worship,” and the congregants themselves are looking mostly for some type of emotional experience for themselves.
Another example where too much emphasis placed on feelings becomes especially evident this time of year, when we again take to the out-of-doors in great number. Up here in Wisconsin, fishing season opened a couple weekends ago, and anglers are again enjoying being out on the lakes. It is again the time of the year when many people go camping or travel to state or national parks to enjoy the out-of-doors.
Every year we hear people say, “When I am out in nature, I can worship God more than I can in any other place.”
I understand what they mean, for I am also someone who loves the out-of-doors. But by saying this, these people demonstrate that they do not have a complete understanding of what it means to worship God. To them, worshiping God is connected only to a certain feeling that they have when they are on a lake or in the woods.
Of course, this indeed may be true worship of God, but just like having that first crush on someone, it is only based on a mere physical and emotional connection. These people are merely in the beginning stages of knowing who God is, and they think they have reached the heights of knowledge. They are like a thirteen year old girl who has just had her first crush on a boy and who says, “Now I know what it means to love someone!”
This girl does not really know love yet. True, it might be that she is in the very beginning stages of learning about true love, but what she is experiencing is not yet love. We often call this “puppy love,” or infatuation.
In much the same way, people who say that they can know the love of God simply by being outside in nature may be in the beginning stages of knowing who God is. But they do not really know God yet. They are simply infatuated by God. They have been enthralled by what they see of God’s creation, but not necessarily by God himself.************************************
In a few days I will continue this post by talking about how we can truly fall in love with God