This command seems to be impossible to obey. That's because, in the natural state of man, it is impossible. There is no greater evidence of the inability of man to obey God's Law than this one commandment. No human being with a fallen nature can possibly love God with his heart, soul, and strength 24 hours a day. It's humanly impossible. But to disobey any commandment of God is sin. Therefore, even without considering the sins we commit daily, we are all condemned by our inability to fulfill this one commandment. This is the reason Jesus continually reminded the Pharisees of their inability to keep the Law of God. He was trying to get them to see their utter spiritual bankruptcy and their need for a Savior. Without the cleansing of sin that He provides, and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit who lives in the hearts of the redeemed, loving God to any degree is impossible.
But, as Christians, we have been cleansed from sin and we do have the Spirit. So how do we begin to love God the way we should? Just as the man in asked God to help his unbelief, so too we can ask God to help us in areas where we don't love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is His power that we need to do the impossible, and we begin by seeking and appropriating that power.
In most cases, our love and affection for God grows more intense as time goes by. Certainly, young Christians newly saved are very much aware of the love of God and their love for Him. But it is through the witness of God's faithfulness during times of struggle and trial that a deep love for God grows and grows. Over time, we witness His compassion, mercy, grace, and love for us, as well as His hatred for sin, His holiness, and His righteousness. We cannot love someone we don't know, so knowing Him should be our first priority. Those who pursue God and His righteousness, who take seriously the command to love Him above all else, are those who are consumed with the things of God. They are eager to study God's Word, eager to pray, eager to obey and honor God in all things, and eager to share Jesus Christ with others. It is through these spiritual disciplines that the love for God grows and matures to the glory of God.
The other Greek word for "love" is . This is love that is considered unconditional. This is the love that Paul describes in and is most appropriate for understanding what it means to love Jesus. Paul explains this type of love by what it does and what it does not do. According to , is patient, kind, rejoicing with truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping in all things, and enduring through all things. In contrast, does not envy, boast, or rejoice in wrongdoing; it is not arrogant, rude, selfish, irritable, or resentful. Most importantly, does not end. It will not fade away like . is not based on circumstances and will never end. To love the Lord is to follow Him wherever He leads, to obey Him whatever He asks, and to trust Him whatever the trial. To love Jesus is to reflect the love that God has for us, for "this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son" ( ). ). To love the Lord is to care for the ones He loves ( ; see also is not based on emotion but on the will. Each characteristic of is a deliberate choice to act in a certain manner. Thus, when Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" ( ), He was teaching that loving Him would be a demonstrable action, not an emotional feeling. If Jesus is to be loved as He commanded, then a conscious choice must be made to act according to the pattern described in . Jesus was clear that loving Him is a service ( , , , ) and that disobedience is evidence of a lack of love ( ). Therefore, to love Jesus is to willfully act in such a way that our devotion to Him is proved through our actions toward Him and our obedience of Him.
The Psalms offer a unique look at dance as an act of worship. In , the psalmist says, "You turned my wailing into dancing." , encourages the use of dancing to worship God: "Let them praise his name with dancing!" Likewise, urges, "Praise him with tambourine and dancing!" just like Miriam. Some have argued that dance is an Old Testament form of expression. Since dance is not mentioned as a method of worship in the New Testament, Christians should not worship in this manner. However, this is an argument from silence and is not based on clear biblical teaching. Most early Christians were Jewish and likely would have incorporated Jewish forms of worship in their praise to the risen Messiah.
Another concern has been the association of dance with sinful activities. The idea is that, if dance is used in worship, it could be seen as approving dance in other situations that do not honor God. However, this is not necessarily the case. The Amalekites' dancing in 1 Samuel did not prevent David from dancing in 2 Samuel. Christians can and should utilize dance as they do any other art form such as music, painting, drama, or filmmaking. As long as dance is worshipful, God-focused, and praiseworthy, it can have a proper place in worship. Worship dance is a far cry from the seductive dance of the daughter of Herodias ().
Finally, it is important to understand that dance in the context of worship is not simply self-expression. It should be done in a way that is helpful to the entire congregation. Paul noted that "everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" in the church (). "Everything" would include the use of dance in worship. Anything during a worship gathering that distracts from a focus on Christ should be left out. Each congregation bears the responsibility to structure its worship service in a way that honors God and encourages those within their group.
Dance is used as an act of worship in Scripture and can continue to be used in that way today. However, churches should take care to avoid dance that leads others to temptation or sin, and the focus must remain on worshiping God rather than drawing attention to self. When practiced in this way, dance is a beautiful art form that can communicate truth, bringing glory to God and edifying others. Walking in the Spirit means loving in the Spirit! We are indwelled by the love of God when we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit.