We sing songs about loving Jesus. We claim to be in relationship with our Savior. Despite voices lifted up and statements being made regarding our love for Jesus, do we really love Him as Scripture defines that love? Do we have a passionate desire to grow in intimacy with the one who gave His life for His bride? Is this love more than mere lip service? Philip Ryken, in his latest book Loving Jesus More, explores what it means to love Jesus, driving home the necessity of taking this issue seriously in all areas of life.
Right off the bat, Ryken makes the salient comment that “If we say that we want to love Jesus more – or that we ought to love him more, whether we want to or not – then we are admitting that we do not love Jesus as much as we should.” This is an important statement as it reveals a lack of something in our lives, namely a constant and unending passionate love for Jesus that results in a life lived that seeks to glorify Jesus. Thankfully, God outlines throughout Scripture what it means to love Him more and there is no shortage of defining exactly what love is and what it looks like in action. The action of love in our life comes through the work of the Holy Spirit. Ryken aptly notes this reality by stating “God has put his love into our lives by pouring his Spirit into our hearts.”
There are a couple of specific points Ryken makes which I found quite excellent, which I’ll focus on in the remainder of this review. The first is what it means to love Jesus with all we have. Scripture declares we are to “Love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength” but what does all that really mean? Ryken correctly states in regard to this command, “When the Bible tells us to love God with mind, heart, soul, and strength, it is not telling us to do four different things but giving us four different ways to do one and the same thing.” Furthermore, we love God with our entire being because He first loved us. Ryken hones in on that important element quite often and rightfully so as that is the believers only valid response to God’s gracious mercy.
Love is not just some mushy emotional response that has no connection to our daily actions. Love as a response is action oriented and the action that comes as a response to God’s love is devotion and adherence to God’s commands. Ryken provides some very practical insight into what loving God and by extension loving Jesus looks like, focusing in specifically on the relational aspect. He states “Joyful obedience is one of the fastest ways to a parent’s heart. By contrast, failing to follow clear instructions is a sign of disaffection as well as disrespect.”
I also appreciated the fact that Ryken takes this aspect of obedience one step further, noting the reality that as the bride of Christ, we are in a marital relationship with Jesus our bridegroom. This betrothal marital relationship is one of anxious anticipation for the day when we will be with our beloved for all eternity. Ryken expertly notes this future reality and how it impacts the present by stating “As we get ready for our wedding day – as we prepare to celebrate the everlasting nuptials – our love for Jesus grows (or at least it ought to).” This hearkens back to the statement Jesus made in the Gospels that if we love him, we will keep his commands. This means our love for Jesus should be revealed to the world with a love that is ever focused on devotion to God’s commands us. We should as noted by Ryken “keep striving for incorruptible affection, wanting to love him more and more.”
Do you love Jesus? Do you find it hard at times? Are you wanting to learn more about how to love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Do you find yourself a bit unsure of what this bride/bridegroom relationship is all about? If the answer is yes to one or all of those questions, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Philip Ryken’s excellent book. Given that as His bride, we should all desire to love Jesus more, having a helpful guide that outlines what loving Jesus is all about is something of great importance for us all. Thus, I happily recommend Loving Jesus More for all believers.
This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Crossway Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”