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Coptic Orthodox Church
So my question is a little complicated, I think, but I really want to know,
What does it mean to love God; like really love Him? And how do we know if we really love Him Himself or if we simply love the "idea" of God?
edited June 2016
"This is My
that you love one another as I have loved you.
If one simple loves the "idea" of God, then one simply loves oneself. This person is the originator of the "idea" of God and if he falls in love with this idea, he is simply narcissistic. God is love by nature and we are not (unlimited) love by nature. By nature, we are the image of God so we have a limited capacity to be or give and receive love. To say one loves the idea of God is to say I love only what I have though of. Such a thought is internal and is completely dependent on the emotional and developmental maturity of my self-awareness. If God is only an internal thought to you, and it is well documented with countless psychological, developmental and anthropological studies that human thoughts change over time, then you have become your own God. As St Athanasius said, when describing Adam's sin, "Adam chose to stop contemplating on God and made himself the god of his own reality".
God is love. Thankfully, God wants us to not merely know Himself but to experience Him. Love is experiential, not didactic. You experience God when He grants you grace because He is omnibenevolent. You experience love when you partake of the sacraments. You experience God when you love one another with this love, as Joshuaa alluded. You experience love when out of nowhere, you see real miracles in your life that science can't explain. You experience God when you understand that He is a real, external (or omnipresent) creator and not just a creation (or lie) humanity created internally as atheists claim. When you experience God, you KNOW God. And it will take eternity to KNOW God.
Does this help?
Dear ljp (can I can you call that?),
What does it mean to love anyone, like your own parents? What do you do to show them you love them? What do they do that shows they love you? Then think about how you can relate this experience with your Heavenly Father. The difference that you will find is not loving an idea, but having a relationship. That is love.
When wrote that verse last night. I saw your question and after went to Facebook and a friend had put that verse down in Arabic. I couldn't read it but I looked up the verse and I had to answer to your problem.
There are five high points in my life in which I know I love God:
The first been when He saved my life at the age of ten but He prepared like the prodigal son and I went out for many years in sin.
The second was a prodigal son moment when for crying three days after a very friend betrayed me to a bully and supported him ten fold. That in the midst of anger a voice that I describe like the universe said be calm and I stopped crying.
The third was when after a few weeks after my mother passed away she came to me in a vision and let me know that what I did was the right concerning her and she said something about me that I didn't know myself. I'm crying now of this memory.
The fourth was as inside deacon when I was at perfect peace for a few seconds with the world and had only God in my heart and mind, I smell or aroma came to me which I have never smelled before or since and it wasn't the incense of the center but sweet and pure. I don't know what to think of it. Maybe the Holy spirit I don't know.
The fifth is and continues to be instances were as in the case of you asking your question and God giving me an answer in the the bible. Before I came to be a part of the Coptic church I went to bible study at a Catholic Church in which I kept having epithines after reading some verses. It was God returning me to Him so I stayed with Him and followed. Then when I was deacon in our church, abouna would get me to be a reader and when I read I would cry because it was in conjunction with what I had being thinking about a day or two before hand in regards to being bullied and verses that would give me strength. The coincidences are too many and too succinct and also continue to be anything other than God.
By the first four I now how far I am away from Him, whether I express self pity or use my own thoughts to fix problems, but in the instances where I get a verse in conjunction with my inquiry, I am reminded of the distance I need to be to obey Him and put His word in my heart.
God be with you Lovejoypeace_