I remember the moment vividly.
I was standing in the midst of an intense moment of worship at a Circuit Rider training school over two years ago.
Everyone was committed to throwing themselves at the feet of their Savior.
Everyone seemed to be madly in love with Jesus.
Everyone it seemed, but me.
Instead, I stood there, worshiping externally, but internally fighting questions with sadness.
Why does everyone seem so happy?
What’s there to be so happy about?
How do these people feel so much for someone they’ve never met?
How do they even know that they love him?
Do they really love him this much?
Everywhere I looked, I saw passionate people dedicated to giving their lives in adoration of the one called Jesus, this God-man who gave himself up for me and the world.
See, I had known Jesus for a while.
At least I thought I did.
But in reality, I knew more about him than I actually knew him.
I walked for him, but I didn’t walk with him much.
I didn’t fully understand that God loved me, so there wasn’t much love I had that I could in turn give to him.
I remember sitting in a PIHOP set (Pasadena International House of Prayer what-up) and desperately writing down everything I knew about God that might motivate me somehow to love him.
I filled four pages with what I knew about his nature, what I understood about his acts.
But still, it wasn’t enough.
I felt nothing.
“Well Peter,” my mind began to say, “You know that we walk by faith and not sight, so we love by faith and not feeling. You don’t need to feel love for God. Just love him.”
Was it true?
Was feeling love for God unnecessary?
Was faith enough?
I wanted to say yes, but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that it wasn’t.
After all, God created me.
He gave me emotions, he made me in such a way that caused me to feel affection for things and people.
So why didn’t I feel love for him?
I felt love for my friends, my family, the way the sky turned a brilliant pink when the sun set, the way coffee smelled right after being ground, and so on and so forth.
Why didn’t I feel love for God, my God?
The answer was more simple than my thought processes were.
Through a short series of revelations and a longer series of experiences I found the answer, if brought to one sentence, was this: I didn’t feel love for God because I didn’t feel his love for me.
1 John 4:19 says “We love him because he first loved us.”
When I had previously read this verse I thought of it simply in terms of the cross. We love him as an act of obedience because he showed his love for us through the cross. Right?
Right, but it’s incomplete.
The Greek word used in the original text is agapaō, which is often used to describe the unconditional and divine love that God has for us, which is true, but again, it is incomplete. The word agapaō is not only used to define an “act” of love or an unconditional love that often seems without feeling or affection but the correct usage of the word actually denotes affection and intense feeling of love for an object or person, and is not simply a part of an incomprehensible part of God’s nature.
In other words, we feel love towards God because God first felt love towards us, and because he felt love towards us, he expressed it and gave it to us not only to know about but also to feel.
It is impossible to love God without realizing his love for us.
If I do not feel love towards God it is because I don’t feel his love for me.
At first, this seems wrong, for God has already proven his love for us through the cross, right?
Right, but realizing that we are his creations and can are made in his image and can only reflect what he is first, it makes sense that we cannot love God without him loving us.
In the same way then, we cannot expect to feel love towards God without first feeling the love of God towards us.
We give because we first received.
It’s not wrong, it’s how he created us.
Over the next couple of years I slowly walked into greater depths of intimacy with the One who loves me so much he counts every hair on my head (kinda obsessive if you think about it, but that’s God).
I began to listen to him instead of push him aside when he whispered how much he loved me into my ears and into my thoughts.
I hadn’t realized how much I hurt him when I refused to accept his compliments and his sweet words of affection of praise towards me. (think of how much it hurts you when the one you love doesn’t accept your love or praise)
And slowly, I began to feel a love for this one called Jesus.
And now, although sometimes I swear I could burst with how much love I have for him, I know that it is only the beginning.
Guys, it is not out of pride or trying to get you to be jealous but out of confidence and love that I can tell you I feel so much love for him.
I no longer doubt if he loves me.
I no longer doubt if I love him.
I no longer have to search for reasons to love him.
I just do.
It’s become a part of me.
And it is the very best thing.
I don’t know a lot of things.
I’m not the best at walking in miracles (yet), I haven’t led the throngs of desperate people to him, and I haven’t written a hundred theological books, but that doesn’t matter, because one thing I know and am confident in: I FREAKING LOVE HIM.
And he loves me.
If you are struggling with feeling the love of God or feeling love towards him, first ask him to show you your worth and how he sees you. Begin to accept compliments from people and from him and invite him into your everyday thoughts. Ask him the same questions you would ask a friend. Ask him what his favorite place on earth is, what his favorite color is, etc, etc. Pursue him as a person, don’t just worship him as a God. Don’t dress up your prayers. Scream, yell, cry, laugh, blubber and giggle. It’s how he made you.
Why would you hide yourself with fig leaves when he knows how naked you are?
He loves you so dearly and wants you to feel his love and feel love towards him.
Believe it and accept his love.
It is so worth it.
(also please feel free to message me. there’s nothing I love more than leading people to experience greater measures of God’s love)