Does being a Christian feel complicated to you sometimes? Do you ever feel like there is a list of rules, of things you should be doing, and somehow you can never do all of them at once?
Rules, and the law, and trying to earn our way into heaven is something Christians have struggled with since long before Jesus came to earth. In fact, Jesus came to earth to abolish the law—making faith, not perfection, the key to heaven.
John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.”
That’s it. It’s not a place reserved for rule followers. It’s not something that can be earned. But sometimes we still find ourselves trying.
The Pharisees, avid rule followers that they were, also found this concept hard to grasp. They wanted to know which combination of laws would earn them God’s approval.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22: 36 – 40
Instead of giving them a long list, Jesus made it simple. Love God, and love each other. Love is the greatest commandment.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35
It’s as simple as love. But just because it’s simple doesn't mean it’s easy.
Here are three things that stand in the way of us loving like God loves:
1. Our pace of life
We are all about efficiency in our world today. We judge our days based on how many things we were able to cram into the smallest amount of time. We’re maximizers, and multi-taskers. We zip from one thing to the next, all while emailing, checking the weather, and sending out a tweet.
But while this approach may feel effective when it comes to whittling down our to-do list, it’s not a great strategy for loving like God loves.
We try to fit in a phone call on the way to work and a one-on-one during our lunch break. We want to pour as much love into as many people as possible. But that leads us to a place where we’re trying to be speedy and efficient with our love, but this is not how God loves.
Love and depth and connection take time — and trying to be speedy or efficient with our love and connection is one of the main things that prevents us from loving like God loves.
Another thing that zaps our ability to love each other well is exhaustion. We wear ourselves so thin and push ourselves so hard that at the end of the day we have nothing else to give.
Have you ever found yourself on a Saturday with two options? Either you can work during the day and try to get ahead for the week — a viable option—or you can take the day to relax and rejuvenate, an option that seems less productive and vaguely selfish.
Although it seems to be smarter to work through the weekend or to push harder to get things done, it leaves us exhausted and at the point of burnout. We’re pouring out without ever filling back up.
In order to be in a place where we can love like God loves, we have to take care of ourselves, and give ourselves time to rest, relax, and fill up on God’s love.
3. Trying to love in your own strength
The last mistake we make when trying to love like God loves is this: We try to love in our own strength. If you are married, or are a daughter or a son, or a brother or a sister, or a friend or a mom or a dad, you know how hard it can be to love sometimes.
No matter how kind we try to be, we fall pathetically short of God’s ability to love.
We can’t even compare.
But we don’t need to feel discouraged, because our ability to love like God loves comes directly from Him. We can’t, and aren’t expected to, do it on our own.
Scott Wilson is the Senior Pastor of The Oaks Fellowship, ministering to about 3,000 people every week in Dallas, TX. He is a frequent conference speaker, and provides mentorship for dozens of pastors and church leaders through Scott Wilson Consulting. Scott is a loving husband and proud father. Scott and his wife, Jenni, have three boys: Dillon, Hunter, and Dakota.