My go-to source in answering any “how to” question is almost always Google. My recent internet search history shows a whole slew of these requests: how to make yogurt, how to get to Santarpio’s in East Boston, and how to create a floor-cleaning solution using household ingredients.
But lately, I’ve been looking for answers to a more serious “how to” — how to love God. The importance of this question should be clear to any believer of the Bible — after all, it is the “first and great commandment” to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37-38). This commandment to love has been reiterated more recently by prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “love is like the Polar Star. In a changing world, it is a constant. It is the very essence of the gospel.” He also explained that “without love … there is little else to commend the gospel to us as a way of life.” So I get that it’s important. But beyond stating my love for God, what am I supposed to do to actually show it?
We all know love is about much more than words. In any relationship, be it among family members or friends, actions are the evidence of love. So just how can we actively love God — a being whose physical presence is not tangible? This is definitely a commandment that is easier to know than to live.
In searching for answers, I realized God has already provided a blueprint for us. The way Jesus Christ lived during his years on Earth is a perfect example of love as action. His actions weren’t always heroic or far-reaching. They were often small, simple actions of kindness and service. I’m pretty sure that’s something I can handle.
Below are two ways I will attempt to show my love for God. I hope these answers to the question of “how to love God” are helpful to any who might be seeking for a deeper relationship with Him.
— Practice the Golden Rule. Sounds simple, right? I don’t think it is. Treating others not only as I’d like to be treated, but as they’d like to be treated, requires leaving my comfort zone. It requires anticipating their needs and desires. It requires real thoughtfulness. When I’m at work, I’m focused on my work. When I’m at church, I’m thinking about what I can get out of it. I bet my experiences at both those places would only improve if I looked outside of myself for opportunities to help someone else.
— Attempt to draw closer to God. Jesus Christ exemplified this well in his documented communications with God, the Father. Likewise, seeking to be closer to God requires much more than a quick request through prayer. In John 5 we are told that the love of God is keeping His commandments. By thinking more of God throughout my day, I am more likely to align my behaviors with His commandments, and in turn I feel closer to Him.
I’m sure there are countless other ways to show love for God. Does anyone else struggle at times with the concept of actively loving God? What are some actions you recommend?