God’s Love

A year ago, a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sent me a letter for my birthday.  Since my birthday is coming around again this year I wanted to talk a little bit about that letter.  Elder Johnson said something in his letter that has had me thinking since I read it.

“One thing I’ve learned recently is the love the Lord has for his children.  I guess I always knew it, but now I feel it!  I’m sure you know what I mean.  When you feel something it is the spirit manifesting the truth of it all the time.  That is the goal. ” Elder Johnson – October 26, 2009

That one comment about “now I feel it”, made me think.  I have felt the spirit of the Lord on a lot of occasions.  When I was married in the temple, during the birth and the baptisms of my children, and it has testified of the truth during other church meetings.   But have I ever really felt the love of the Lord?   This blog post is to help me find the answer to that question.  Have I ever felt the Love of the Lord?  I am not talking about the manifestation of the Spirit that testifies of truth, but the feeling that the Lord and our Heavenly Father loves me.  I have felt love a lot of times.  I have felt the love of my wife, my parents, family members, and my children.  But have I really ever felt the love of the Lord?

Lets start by defining what God’s Love really is.  God, our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, our eldest brother are two different beings.   The scriptures tell us that they are one in purpose, and that Christ is like the Father and that they are as one. (3 Nephi 28:10).  By studying some of the attributes of our Heavenly Father and Christ, we get an idea of what their love would be like.

In a revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet in April 1830, we are told that:  “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;” (D&C 20:17).  I think that we can take these attributes and then apply them to the Love that our Heavenly Father and Christ have.  We learn that their love is infinite, eternal, everlasting, and unchangeable.  We could also say that because both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are perfect, then their love must be a perfect love as well.

In the first book of Nephi, Nephi’s father Lehi tells his sons about visions he has had.  Nephi wants to know the meaning of the visions his father had, so he prays to God.   God tells him what he wants to know, and in chapter 11 we are give more information on the love of God.  “Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.” (1 Nephi 11:22).  Not only is his love perfect and everlasting, but it is the “most desirable” thing we could want to have.

We also learn that it is very important for us to have and show love.

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Why do you think that loving God and our neighbors are on the top of the list of commandments?  If you ask most people, they would tell you that it is because it is a way for us to sacrifice and to put aside the natural man.  That by loving God and others, we show that we really do indeed love God.    I think it has more of a meaning than that.  I think that by loving God and our neighbors, we are actually feeling Gods love.   Let me explain.

In John chapter 4, we are told alot about love.  He adds to the doctrine taught in Matthew.  

  • 7: every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God
  • 8: for God is love
  • 10: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son
  • 11: God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us
  • 16: God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
  • 21: That he who loveth God love his brother also

I think I finally understand.  Elder Johnson is really feeling the love of God, what better way to feel the love of God than to be serving your fellow men on a mission.  By serving and loving them, you are feeling the love of God.  The more you share and show love, the more you will feel the love of God.  (Note:  Just think, the more children you have, and the more love you show them, the greater the love you will feel from God.  Maybe that is also one of the reasons the Church has such a positive stance to wards families.)

Elder Gene R Cook of the Seventy in a talk called, “Charity: Perfect and Everlasting Love” stated the following:

Recognizing, Receiving, and Conveying God’s Love

How, then, can we better “clothe [ourselves] with the bond of charity … of perfectness and peace”? May I share with you three suggestions

1. Recognize His love. “Pray … with all the energy of heart” for this gift. Do so in meekness with a broken heart, and you will be filled with hope and love from the Holy Ghost Himself. He will reveal Christ to you.

It is part of the gift of charity to be able to recognize the Lord’s hand and feel His love in all that surrounds us. At times it will not be easy to discover the Lord’s love for us in all that we experience, because He is a perfect, anonymous giver. You will search all your life to uncover His hand and the gifts He has bestowed upon you because of His intimate, modest, humble way of granting such wonderful gifts.

Ponder with me a moment the following majestic gifts: the glories of all creation, the earth, the heavens; your feelings of love and joy; His responses of mercy, forgiveness, and innumerable answers to prayer; the gift of loved ones; and finally the greatest gift of all—the Father’s gift of His atoning Son, the perfect one in charity, even the God of love.

2. Receive His love in humility. Be grateful for the gift and especially for the giver of the gift. True gratitude is the ability to humbly see, feel, and even receive love. Gratitude is a form of returning love to God. Recognize His hand, tell Him so, express your love to Him. As you come to truly know the Lord, you will find an intimate, sacred relationship built on trust. You will come to know He understands your anguish and will, in compassion, always respond to you in love.

Receive it. Feel it. It is not enough just to know that God loves you. The gift is to be felt continually day by day. It will then be a divine motivator throughout your life. Repent. Remove any worldliness from your life, including anger. Receive a continual remission of your sins, and you will bridle all your passions and be filled with love.

3. Convey His love. The Lord’s response to us is always filled with love. Should not our response to Him be in kind, with real feelings of love? He gives grace (or goodness) for grace, attribute for attribute. As our obedience increases, we receive more grace (or goodness) for the grace we return to Him. Offer Him the refinement of your attributes, so that when He does appear you will be like Him.

As a man first immerses his thoughts in love and conveys those feelings to God, man, or self, a magnified portion of that attribute will surely follow from the Spirit. That is true of all godly attributes. Righteous feelings generated by a man seem to precede the increase of those feelings from the Spirit. Unless you are feeling love, you cannot convey true love to others. The Lord has told us to love one another as He loves us, so remember: to be loved, truly love.

Elder Cook finishes by saying:

Brothers and sisters, as an especial witness of Christ, I bear testimony to you again of the overwhelming love of God for each of us personally. Magnifying that gift from God will bring a new heart, a pure heart, and ever-increasing love and peace. As we increasingly think and act like Him, the attributes of the natural man will slip away to be replaced by the heart and the mind of Christ. We will become like Him and then truly receive Him.

The scriptures and the prophets tell us that if we love one another, then we will in turn feel the love of Jesus Christ and the love of our Heavenly Father.  I guess that if I want to feel the love of God more in my life, that I better stop thinking about myself and start showing more love to wards those around me.

In his talk, Elder Cook talks about the Destroyers of Love,

“Yet there stands the devil, the destroyer of this love, replacing it with anger and hostility. My friend William felt that way: hostile. It seemed that whatever happened, it was the Lord’s fault—an illness, a death, a wayward child, a personal weakness, an “unanswered” prayer—all of which hardened his heart. His inner anger, which could flare up in but a moment, was directed toward God, his fellowman, and himself. From his heart emanated unbelief, stubbornness, pride, contention, and a loss of hope, love, and direction. He was miserable!

These destroyers of peace blinded William to God’s feelings for him. He could neither discover nor feel God’s love. He did not see, especially in those dark moments, that God was richly blessing him even still. Instead, he returned anger for love. Have we not all felt that at times? Even when we have merited love the least, He has loved us the most. Truly, He loves us first.

If we want to feel of Gods love, we also need to remove anything from our lives that takes away from the love and peace we can show to others.  If we watch, listen, or participate in things that are contrary to Gods will, we will not be able to feel his love.

But we must always remember, just because our lives may not me in order for us to constantly feel the love of God, that does not mean that He does not Love us.   We just need to find what in our life is stopping us from being able to see that love.  If we do that, we will taste of his love, and it will be the “most desirable” thing we could want and seek.  It is a never ending cycle.  The more you love others, the more you feel the love of God, and the more you desire that feeling.  We just need to remember that Satan is trying to stop us from feeling that love, and trying to make us think that other things are more desirable than it.