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The Primacy of Loving God: The Missing Ingredient in Discipleship

Unfortunately, we are seldom advised that a growing love relationship with our God should be the primary goal of the Christian life. This is a lamentable omission, for when we increasingly fall in love with God, we will become more mature believers, we will become equipped against sin, we will be better stewards, and our marriages will be enhanced. In other words, as we advance in our intimate love relationship with God, all areas of life are supernaturally benefited from our living in God’s loving presence.

The reason for loving God is God Himself.

Bernard of Clairvaux

As alluded to, some churches have put the cart before the proverbial horse. For example, there are endless programs for alcohol recovery, addiction relief, and the prevention of extramarital affairs. But interestingly, many of those churches do not focus on life-integration of the primary commandment given to believers to love God with all that we are and have. I may be naïve, but I think the primary discipleship focus in churches should be to lead believers into deeper levels of intimacy with and love for God, which will naturally bring God’s presence into all the areas of life. When this occurs, many of the issues that are facing believers that churches try to counter with classes, programs, and accountability sessions, will be eliminated by that intimate, mutual love between the Father and us, His children.

Tozer said, “The teaching of the Bible is that God is Himself the end for which man was created. … The first and greatest commandment is to love God with every power of our entire being. Where love like that exists there can be no place for a second object.”12 A growing love and passion for God will consume a believer much more than addictions, or sinful habits, or anything else of an insidious nature invading their life.

To start discipling believers into a passionate, loving relationship with God, we can show them that the Holy Spirit is the One Who enables believers to call out, “Abba, Father”, thereby helping us to love God as a child loves his or her “daddy.”

You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 815b-16).

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

Scripture also tells us that “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Tozer commented, “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.”13

When we delight ourselves in God, He will fill our hearts with those desires He wants us to have.

Believers should be encouraged to ask the Holy Spirit to create a greater love and desire for God in their hearts, acknowledging that these are beyond human capabilities to produce. As this love and desire is cultivated in their hearts by God Himself, they will find themselves wanting to spend more time in His beautiful presence. As a result, the discipleship practices engaged in will become delights rather than duties.

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2010

About the Author: Frank A. DeCenso, Jr. is the author of Presence Powered Living: Building a Life of Intimacy and Partnership with God (Vineyard International Publishers). He is also the compiler of the multi-author compendiums Amazed by the Power of God, and God’s Supernatural Power in You from Destiny Image Publishers. Frank and his wife Denise reside in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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