This morning, I spent a great deal fo time pondering the spiritual life. Many of you are likely not surprised by that. Still, it is something I find myself doing regularly. The more I ponder human nature, and our attachment to selfish desires, the more I realize that we cannot live a holy life in this lifetime without falling deeper and deeper in love with God. We cannot be the best version of ourselves without falling head over heels in love with God.
As I think about my own spiritual walk, I see more clearly how it is rooted in selfishness. I want eternal life. I cannot deny that this selfish desire does not it impact my response to the Christian message. I want to do the right thing, and because I am a person of Christian faith, this driver likewise taints my spiritual life. I look at all of the effort I have put into dying to self, and realize how infrequent and how shallow my efforts.
The more I take these issues to prayer, the more I realize that perfection of me as a person can only happen if I fall deeper in love with God. God is love. Therefore, the greater my love for God, the more God-like I become. The more I fall in love with God, the more pure my intention towards living the Christian life. In other words, the spiritual life will never reach the highest heights without an ever growing love of God.
Of course, this leads to the question, how does one fall in love with God? I think this happens in a multitude of ways. However, I think all ways are rooted in the truth of the relationship between creator and created. Human behavior wants to bring God to our level. The truth is, he became one of us. He is one of us. However, he came to raise us up to his level. He came so that we might be one with God. The more we dwell on God as one of us, the less emphasis on becoming him. Therefore, pondering the nature of God is a way of increasing one’s love of God. By getting to know him, we cannot help but fall in love with him.
Another way we fall in love with God is in pondering human nature. In particular, our individual nature. I think true Christian joy comes in a deeper and deeper recognition of the horror of our sinful nature. It is so easy to get caught up in the fact that we are sinners, and we will always be sinners. There is a built in capitulation when we accept this as fact. It is just something that is. We can learn a lot from Teresa of Avila, who was horrified at her behavior when she caught herself gossiping. Her horror helped her to fight against this behavior. I think most of us shrug it off as something we all do. Because we all do it, it is acceptable behavior. If it is acceptable, we do not throw sufficient energy at the problem to fix it.
When we approach God with a greater awareness of the horrors of our sin, we open ourselves to an incredible prodigal son type experience. When we approach God with true repentance and contrition, we experience the greatest love of all. We experience mercy. By sitting in this love and mercy, we truly start to fall in love with God. In our encounter with the God who is love, we don’t rationalize our behavior, but we take it to him, and he helps us to learn from it. He helps us to heal the things within us that cause us to sin. Throughout this entire process, which happens over and over again during our lives, we fall deeper and deeper in love with God.
Send some time with the Holy Spirit analyzing the depth of your love of God. Because it is impossible for a human to attain perfect love in this life, there is always room to improve. Spend some time seeking guidance from your advocate, the Holy Spirit. Ask him how you can improve. Ask him to show you ways of deepening your love of God. Spend some time praising God for his greatness. Spend some time seeking a deeper awareness of the horrors of sin, of your sin. Ask him how you can use the truth of both his greatness and your weakness to increase your love of God. Jot down some notes on how you can go about improving your relationship with God. Thank him and praise him for being with you during your time of prayer.