This entry is based on a Conference talk given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the October 2009 General Conference.
God’s love for us is infinite and all-encompassing. There is a vast array of evidence of this love and He does show it. “I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love…” (2 Nephi 1:15), “let us love one another: for love is of God…” (1 John 4:7), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,” (John 3:16) – these are just a few passages that describe the love of God. The miraculous thing is that He loves each and every one of us, no matter who we are or what we are becoming.
President Uchtdorf said “I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly…He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.” God’s love extends to all of His children. Whether we accept it His love or not is a different matter – but he will always be there.
What does this ultimate love do for us? It is very important because we can then trust in God that He will protect and provide for us when it is when it is the best for us. God does not need us to love Him “But oh, how we need to love God!” President Uchtdorf continued and went on to say “For what we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become.” This is a powerful thought because that means if we truly love God (which includes keeping his commandments – see John 14:15) then we will become more like God – something which is taught in the scriptures that is a goal for us – “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).
Following President Uchtdorf’s talk at the same Conference was a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. He said “Some seem to value God’s love because of their hope that His love is so great and so unconditional that it will mercifully excuse them from obeying His laws. In contrast, those who understand God’s plan for His children know that God’s laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children.” As God is perfect, He must uphold His laws and the consequences of them. He does this to protect all His children. If He allowed mercy to rob justice “…the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:22)
At some point we see God showing anger towards His children – some would say that if He truly was a loving Heavenly Father then He would not express any anger or punishment. How can wrath and anger be an evidence of perfect love? Elder Oaks affirmed “He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect, as He is. For this reason, God’s anger and His wrath are not a contradiction of His love but an evidence of His love.” He went on to give the example of a parent being disappointed in a child’s behaviour, or even angry in a constructive manner – but doing it because they love the child and they want them to make the right choices now and later in life.
If we are truly wanting to fulfil admonition in John 14:15 to keep the commandments, we need the love of God. President Uchtdorf said “Divine love is the factor that transforms reluctant compliance with God’s commandments into blessed dedication and consecration.” If we link this principle with the thoughts presented by Elder Oaks – we learn that if we love God, we will understand why He asks what He asks. We see the blessings of commandments and, because we love Him and desire the blessings, our willingness to keep the commandments improves. Not only this, but as we see the results (the evidence of our faith), our faith increases and we are more willing to be obedient.
We are assured in scripture that we receive blessings for obedience to commandments – in D&C 130:21 it tells us “And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” As God wants the very best for all His children, He has revealed these ways, these eternal laws (these commandments) that if we live our lives in obedience to them, we can receive what He has.
The love of God is everlasting, unchanging – as are His laws. Elder Oaks went on to say “The effect of God’s commandments and laws is not changed to accommodate popular behavior or desires. If anyone thinks that godly or parental love for an individual grants the loved one license to disobey the law, he or she does not understand either love or law.” That means that we don’t have to fear that God’s love for us or His laws will ever change – they are constant. This is another evidence of this love.
As disciples of Christ, we need to try and emulate this love in all that we do. President Uchtdorf explained this in a marvellous way. He said “Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder. Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship. Love is the way of the disciple.” Love should be at the centre of all that we do. As we improve and increase our love we can become more Christ-like.