How to Love Jesus

“Jesus says, ‘I love you just the way you are. And I love you too much to let you stay the way you are’” (Mother Teresa).

One of my favorite gospel passages is the post-resurrection encounter between Jesus and Peter when Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” I love this passage because there have been many times in my life when I know Jesus has asked me the same question and it has forced me to enter deeply into my heart to find the answer.

Some days I’ve been able to answer with a resounding “Yes!” Other days, my answer has been more lukewarm: “Lord, I do love You…but not enough.”

Jesus asked Peter this question three times so that Peter would be given the chance to reverse his triple denial of Jesus. Just as Peter denied Jesus three times so now he would three times express his love for the Lord. Jesus takes the initiative to bring Peter to repentance for his sins. How beautiful! Even when we offend Jesus He draws near to us; He takes the initiative in leading us back to Him through repentance.

“Do you love me?” It’s a question that any serious follower of Jesus Christ must reflect upon because love for Jesus is at the heart of our spiritual lives. So today I invite you to look into your heart and respond to Him. Do you love Him?

None of us loves Jesus perfectly; but if we try to love Him then it will necessarily play out in our daily lives. So, how do we love Jesus—practically? How does it translate into our daily living?

We love Him with our hearts. This means that He is our first love. He comes before everything and everyone. Our hearts belong completely to Him. Spouses, fear not! For the more we love Jesus, the more we are able to love others. He is the source of love and the more we go to the source, the more we are filled. Loving Jesus with our hearts means that we let nothing else occupy the central place in our hearts; that place is for Him alone. Loving Jesus with our hearts means that we are willing to do whatever He asks of us, no matter what the cost, no matter what our own desire is. Loving Jesus means being committed to daily, heart-to-heart prayer with Him.

We love Him with our minds. This means that Jesus occupies our thoughts. He influences everything we do in our lives. It means we think of Him frequently throughout the day; we speak to Him throughout the day; we know that He is with us at every moment. It means we do our best, with God’s grace, to banish thoughts that go against the love of Jesus. We dismiss angry thoughts, impure thoughts, jealous thoughts, judgmental thoughts, any thoughts that come against our love for God and neighbor. Loving Jesus with our minds means that we allow our minds to be shaped by the truths that are taught to us through the Church, truths that lead us to live the Christian life more fully.

We love Him with our bodies. This means that whatever our vocation we keep our bodies pure. We live chastely. Married couples stay faithful to one another and allow their love to deepen so that they can enter more deeply into the great mystery of the sacrament of marriage. Those who are not married live chastely. This enables them to be selfless in serving God, their family, the Church, and society. Loving Jesus with our bodies means that we allow the Holy Spirit to shape our passions. We cooperate with God’s grace to overcome bad habits: impatience, anger, unforgiveness, whatever struggles we may have.

“Do you love me?” It’s a deep question. It’s a demanding question. It’s a question addressed to each of us. Are we ready to respond like Peter? “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”

How else does loving Jesus play out in our daily lives?  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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41 Responses to “How to Love Jesus”

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  1. Phil Coco says:

    It’s an awesome question that Jesus asked Peter! We can all see ourselves in the figure of Peter, eh? Often I say that that I love the Lord but yet then deny him through thoughts, actions, and omissions. Thanks for another great entry, Fr. Mike. It certainly speaks to me as a young adult. A struggle I face is wanting things that do not currently have in my life as opposed to being with what the Lord has given me today.

    • Fr. Michael Najim says:

      Phil,
      Great to “see” you here on my blog. We all deny Christ, but the beautiful thing is that He’s always ready to take us back…if we’re only willing to ask for mercy.
      We experience more happiness when we’re grateful for what we have, rather than on focusing on what we don’t have.

      Peace!

  2. JFP says:

    I stumbled onto your site last night when I was searching for ways to have a more authentic relationship with God. When I came back this morning and saw this post, I couldn’t believe it. This is the very issue I am wrestling with right now. Thank you for this spiritual nourishment.

    • Fr. Michael Najim says:

      JFP,

      You’re very welcome! I’m so happy you’ve found my blog helpful. We all need spiritual nourishment. Please come back often, and always feel free to comment.

      Peace!

  3. Michelle says:

    Fr Mike, your insights are so wonderful!
    This questions crossed my mind at a time when I was struggling with the next step in my faith journey: If Jesus put no conditions or limits on His love for us, then how dare I put conditions on my love for him and not do what he was asking? But as you said, some days it seems *reasonable* to find an excuse not to.

    This is a great passage! It was not long ago, after reading it, that this though hit me: JC had to make sure Peter loved him before he entrusted to him that great mission! No other motivation would be enough.

    - Have a great weekend! I hope you all have recovered from the floods.

  4. Fr. Michael Najim says:

    Michelle,
    So true: Christ’s love is limitless, so why do we limit ours? This may sound strange, but I think we’re afraid to love Him because we’re afraid to let go.
    Great point about Jesus needing to make sure that Peter loved Him; but I also think Peter needed to know that he loved Jesus so that he could live his mission.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Come back, and spread the word!

  5. Anastasiya says:

    This is a beautiful post, father Michael.
    When you were talking about marriage and love for Jesus I remembered the movie that I watched last year – “Fireproof.” I don’t know if you watched it or not but in my opinion it is one of the strongest movies that shows how love for Jesus can transform life of a person.
    I must confess that sometimes I also doubt if I love Jesus enough (really, who doesn’t?) but every time I put my trust in Him and try to do my best to deserve what He has done for all of us.

    • Fr. Michael Najim says:

      Anastasiya,
      I’ve not seen “Fireproof,” but I’ve heard wonderful things about it.
      I think all that Jesus asks of us is to put our trust in Him daily and to try to love Him as perfectly as possible. He knows we are not perfect, but the more we love Him, the more He perfects us.

      Peace!

  6. kingfisher says:

    Thank you for this post. I struggle with fearing I don’t know how to love Jesus enough. Sometimes my mind is too distressed to be able to remember how he loves me unconditionally, and I’m not able to “feel” that I’m capable of loving him, or others, or myself, at all. I need to be reminded often that what I perceive, when feeling low, isn’t what God in his mercy and unconditional love gives to me!

    • Fr. Michael Najim says:

      None of us loves Jesus as much as we should, but He loves us unconditionally. That should always be a consolation to us.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Peace!

  7. anonymous says:

    I can’t help feeling that on a conscious level I love Jesus, but I can’t get that subconscious feeling towards him. You know when you’re alone or away from someone and you want to be with them really badly, and it’s not something you choose to feel, but you can’t do anything about it? I can’t get that feeling towards Him; I can read the Bible, and use His guidance to know what to do in situations, and pray to Him, but that’s all on a conscious level. Should I be able to feel it on another level? Or is it meant to be different to any other desire and love?

    • Fr. Michael Najim says:

      I think the more we spend time in quiet prayer with the Lord, our desire to be with Him increases. But sometimes he doesn’t give us the “feeling” because he wants us to keep longing for Him. It’s one thing to say prayers and read scripture; it’s another thing to actually enter into deep, quiet, heart-to-heart prayer with the Lord. It’s this kind of prayer that permeates even our subconsciousness.

      Peace!

  8. Bosco Gonsalves says:

    To experience a love relationship with Jesus is possible only with the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s difficult to love some one when you have not seen him eye to eye. Ofcourse our faith level is elivated by reading the Bible (mainly ACTS with he miracles of Jesus. But loving Him is by inviting the Holy Spirit to help u. He said that He would be the HELPER when Jesus left the earth. So u would first have to start with praise & worship (use a CD), next invite the HS to fill u, as u get filled the presence of God will touch u. U just can’t stop loving Jesus then. The HS does the job of taking u to the Father through Jesus.

  9. Victoria says:

    I thank God for this post. I have been struggling with my faith. I know there is a God in heaven. He has been my strength, help, and source of blessing. I don’t still know why I doubt his existence, this is giving me a lot of concern. I am still praying about this. Please pray for me. I Want Jesus to reign forever in my life. I want to make heaven.

    • Amber says:

      Bless your heart, I know your pain, i’m going through the same thing right now. I will be praying for you and myself as well.

  10. Bridgette says:

    Thank You for this revelation.
    For some reason I thought to myself, how do you really know if you love Jesus? I type in my thoughts on google and got my answer! I must know within my heart nomatter I’ve done or doing He loves me, secondly think on Him even n my thoughts, and 3rdly keep my body holy and I know the only way this could be done is I have to believe on what He has done for me on the cross! I love Jesus!!!!
    Thank you and may God cont to bless you!

  11. Angeline says:

    Evn i dnt lv him sumtimes,he s holdng my hand and leadng me.He lvs me ta most..my youth lif s ful f distractions bt stil ,he guider me.i lv my luver jesus

  12. Kristie Mowry says:

    I just heard about this site on catholic radio, and it is very heart warming. I do agree with father that we are afraid to let go. We grow up learning to control our lives and to give it over to Jesus is very scary. I am just trying to think of him and praise him daily instead of losing myself in this world. Just that alone is a challenge for me.

  13. Bryanna Saliba says:

    Sometimes I say I love Jesus but don’t feel it my heart I want to be good person I don’t love him enough can someone help me please and help me to be repentant

  14. mbabazi Diana says:

    oh my God.this is so amazing.i have liked this fr.mike,because it has continued to build my body n soul in Jesus Christ.i will be honest i always say i love Jesus but inside me i have not reflected it hard in me.and now this i have just read has put me a step higher in knowing ma really love for him.thanx may God bless u all.

  15. Paula says:

    First of all, our human love could never be more than a square inch, compared to the millions of acres of God’s love for us. Secondly, trying to get one’s love near or even above that square inch, would come down to ‘works’, wouldn’t it? Who would get the praise if you accomplish that? You would, wouldn’t you? But then, remember Ephesians 2:9 “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (God wants ALL the praise and honor, not a single little bit should go to any human being.)

    I have been reading The Normal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee. In it Nee writes how, in order to get all the alcohol out of a country, one could destroy all the bottles of liquor that one can find. But the problem would not be solved if the factories were to remain intact. We are the factories, our actions are the products. The blood of our Lord Jesus has taken away the products (our sins). But would God leave it at that? Would He leave us with the horrible sin-factory that we are (that also produces mere human ‘love’?) No, He didn’t do a half job and leave us with the other half to take care of. God never takes half measures. Romans 6:6 “…knowing this, that our OLD MAN was crucified with Him, that the BODY OF SIN might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” THAT is the ‘finished work’ of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nee gets a revelation about this: he realized that he was one with Christ, that he was in Him and that Jesus’ death was also his own death. Because he was in Him when He died. Nee was so happy he shouted: “Praise the Lord, I am dead!” (We believe that our sins are forgiven, we also have to believe that our old nature died on the Cross with Christ.)

    On the third day Jesus stood up from the dead, and so did we in Him. Not only had we become ‘dead for the law’, we now also ‘became alive for God’. The resurrected life of Christ, which is also in us, enables us to meet all of God’s holy requirements. The resurrected Lord Jesus now lives His life in us, and “in Him, His beloved Son, God is well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). (We humans can never ever please the Father as Jesus would. And trying would boil down to ‘works’ and lead to self-praise.)

    What does this mean in daily life? It means, says Nee, “that from now on I will not do anything anymore for God; I am never anymore going to try to please Him.” Heresy? But remember, Nee continues, if I, ‘in the flesh’, try to please God, I immediately put myself back under the law (doing works). Christ will work out in me that which is pleasing to God (Thus: surrender ALL!). …… It is He who works IN you. It is not necessary anymore, that we do God’s will ourselves. As we are (should be) totally convinced we are unable to do so, we no longer try, based on our old nature, to please God. ….. God must, sooner or later, bring us to the point that our natural power is broken so that we no longer dare trust upon ourselves. … Then we finally have the attitude of a servant, the servant He is looking for in every one of us. “For those who “…worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3) have, just like Paul, discovered the secret of such service. (Nee also says: The true joy in doing His will is deeper than your forever changing feelings.)

    I had been tempted to jack up my love for Jesus. However, It felt like ‘works’ and ‘new-agey’(self realization) to me, so I grabbed Nee’s book again. I am clearly not irreversibly ‘broken’ yet. Christ needs to be in me and I in Him. Then the ‘loving’ won’t be an issue: He will (also) take care of that. It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord (100%-boss!) and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection (Romans 5:10).

  16. Matthew B says:

    I am always curious and open-minded to Christian ideas and thinking. What a great site this is. It made me think of all that Jesus gave for man. The only way I can begin to repay my debt to him is to live according his will and adhere to obedience of the Bible. Its an internal Spiritual struggle, but I know he is the one that strengthens me through all this. Jesus gave his life for me. What can I give in return. Loving and living for God is the toughest challenge I have ever faced as a human and a Christian. I Love You Jesus.

  17. Gracy says:

    If only you can hug Jesus ask him while looking straight in his eyes ask him “do you love me or hate me?”

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hello,

    What a great blog! I cannot tell you what joy it has brought me, it prompted me to pray and my sense of hopelessness has left me. Two years ago (maybe more or less) I was in deep spiritual trouble; I dabbled in astrology, palmistry and other hideous things. I was about to sin grievously and practice witchcraft until I was stopped by someone i love. I could not muster the courage to confess this at my last confession but hope to do so soon. Unfortunately I have since gone to a country where the language is one foreign to me. I have found a church that offers English mass and I hope to go and confess, I pray that all goes well and that i find the strength to confess my all my sins. Thanks for reminding me that there is hope! He already died for me, I just have to take the scale off my eyes and see it and live my life for it.

  19. noah g selwyn says:

    This sermon leed me more closer to christ . i love you jesus.

  20. Afolabi says:

    I think the physical body cannot stand the strain of loving and thanking JC enough for what he’s done for us.

  21. Helen says:

    just yesterday in church the reality of my citizenship dawned on me all because of the cross .I love u jesus.When i pray i try imagining his presence.

  22. craig says:

    At this time it is so important for us to interconnect on the Web and share the love of Jesus Christ that he may be lifted up.

  23. Raina says:

    This article is very nice. God Bless you.

    • M.T says:

      I just found this blog. I know it has been up for awhile, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU everyone who contributed to the conversation. I seem to have lost my way and I’m trying to find my way back. Thanks.

  24. Chosen says:

    Great insight on practical ways to love Jesus.I was reading yesterday that once we come to the full understanding of the role that JC plays ( after salvation ) then we will want to obey him – good start.

    Thanks!

  25. craig says:

    I use to belong to a Church that condemns Roman Catholics, but at the end of the day it is about the love of Christ in us. We are all sinners and of need of repentance, but it is only through Christ that we can come to. Keep up the good work my dear brother.

    Regards,
    Bro Craig

  26. angel says:

    I too have had problems with feeling like I don’t love Jesus enough. Just pray and ask for it to grow everyday, and to pray to have that passion. Along with reading the bible, I have been reading a book called “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. It helps you to understand that you aren’t alone when it comes to the problems you are dealing with. It just takes the most important lessons about the bible and makes it easy to understand. I have been praying for all of you guys, for I know the hurt you go through too. It is a really good book, and I believe it can help you guys out too.

    Romans 8:38-39 -For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,9neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Remember that always. Because it is true…I have doubts, and troubles just like the rest of you all but.. when you are weak, you are strong. God bless you all. I hope this helps.

  27. philip benaiah says:

    Rev mike…am a nigerian teen and i love serving God and doing his will, but anytime i try to devote myself to him, i backslide either by covetousness of immoralities….rev mike i need your help on counselling

  28. elma gonzales says:

    Can someone please say a prayer for me. I’m in so much trouble and I can’t get out. PLEASE.

  29. PETER EVBUOMWAN says:

    Loving Jesus gives us awesome personality,its an experience which can not be articulated with words ,JESUS IS LIFE

  30. This is deeply insightful! Fr Mike thank you for allowing God to use you. I have copiously used your post for my homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter Year A. 25 May 2014. When I was reflecting on the very first line of the Gospel where Jesus says “if you love me you will keep my commandments”. In an effort to understand what it means to love Jesus, I stumbled on your write-up and that exactly answered my question!

  31. Alisa Crawford says:

    I found the time I felt the most love for Jesus and God was when I was in a mental crises and told God that this was the hour I needed him genuinely and that I knew he already knew that. I respectfully was not calling him on the carpet but I told him that I knew he would not fail me, it was not possible, because if he did, his love would be a lie and I knew he would never allow that. So later that day, even before I knew what I needed, he gave me three things. You know when God intervenes, their can be no coincidence. He gave me time with my brother, who gave me a spiritual kick in the butt, reminding me of spiritual armor and my behavior, he then gave me a call from my cousin a psychiatrist, who walked me through my mental crises until I could see a doctor on monday, and he gave me my fathers hand, who took me out to the store to get some food. A voice spoke to me and said take your father’s hand he loves you. Take his hand as I have taken your hand and helped you out of your deep, dark hole. Before God gave me what I needed to make it through that terrible day, he felt a sense of profound love for him, because I knew he loved me and would not fail me. I have felt this love before for Him and it transcends even the love I have for my own children. It goes far beyond that. And he let me know that he feels our love, he actually feels it. Our love is the perfect gift for God and Jesus. I never understood before that I could give back to God, but we can with our love. I never used to think I would love him in this way enough to want to please him in any way I can. So now I look for opportunities to please him. I have heard people say they are waiting for some ultimate purpose from God, but I think it can be many small purposes as well. Like seeing the homeless and buying them a meal and calling the city to see if they can help them. Or when someone needs something and I have it to give. Even if something isn’t returned I don’t get angry. I figure they needed it more than me. I am still growing spiritually and still dealing with the mental issue of lacking motivation in my life and I pray that God will restore my will so that I can complete his will for me.

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