Love This Priority #1 – Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

Love-This
Love is in the air at ECHO! We just wrapped up our first week in our “Love This!” series. Some thought from last Sunday that are worth talking out with your teenager:

Sometimes people talk about falling in love, like falling into a puddle or something…as if it were an accident; completely uncontrollable. This attitude sometimes makes us think that love is some mysterious feeling that we cannot harness – like “the Force.” We hear songs with lines like “you can’t help who you love,” and the general attitude of our culture is that love is something that happens to you. Then we hear about people that “fell out” of love. Brad used to be “in love” with Jen, but then he did a movie with Angelina, and he must have fallen out of love with Jen and then fallen in love with Angelina. Couples that were so convinced they were “in love” are now not “in love,” and they might be “in love” with someone else. If they fell into this puddle, I guess you could just fall out of that puddle and fall into a different one, right? We have this other cultural image of “cupid.” He is a baby with a bow and arrow, and he goes around shooting people in the butt to help them fall in love. Whoever thought it was a good idea to give a baby a bow and arrow needs some parenting help. Again, in this frame of mind, love is something that happens to you and is out of your control. Our students have grown up in a world where love is an accident, marriages are based on the strength of a fickle feeling, and the whole idea of love has been reduced to the warm fuzzies. Feelings are unfaithful because feelings fade. Ice cream is great…but it eventually melts.

What if our culture has love completely wrong? Love is not a feeling, Love is a Choice. You can choose who you love, you can choose what to love. C.S. Lewis said it like this:

“love as distinct from “being in love” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both [people] ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else. “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

Some people may be easier to love; other people might be more difficult. But you can make the choice. Love isn’t a feeling, it is a verb. It is an action, a way of living, a way of communicating importance and ordering your heart. This means that if something is important to you, it should change the way you act, the way you think, the way you live your life. Ultimately, no one understands love like God. God is Love – Love is his language. The universe might just be a huge experiment in love. When Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God, he said that when it came down to it, love is at the heart and soul of everything.

With this conversation as the backdrop, we looked at Mark 12:28-31. The most important commandments in the entire bible are about love. If love is a choice; I mean to say that if you and I have something to do with the affections and attitudes of our hearts, than this is a critical point to pay attention to. What Jesus is saying is that your entire life should be oriented around one thing: Love. The Love of God and Love of others, these are the most important realities in our lives. And Jesus didn’t stop there. Jesus taught all kinds of revolutionary ideas about love.

Questions for you and your teenager:
* What do you think about the idea that love is not a feeling, but a choice? Does this challenge the way you have thought about love in the past? Do you think it is possible for someone to choose love without ever “feeling” it? Why do you think our culture is obsessed with feelings?
* Do you agree that some people are easier to love than others? Why do you think this is?
* Jesus challenged us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. What do you think he meant by “with all your heart?” What about soul? Mind? Strength?