If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, you know that God loves you.
That, after all, is the main reason that He sent His son into the world!
“God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His son in to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world, through Him.” (John 3:16-17)
Many of us have experienced the love of God–at least, at the ‘introductory’ level. That is, we’ve experienced the power of the Holy Spirit drawing us in to feel His love for us, our conviction of sin, our realization of our need for Him, and helping us to be willing to repent of our sin’open up’ in faith to Him.
That is huge! That is the point where we’ve crossed over from death to life!
At that point, the Holy Spirit changes His approach–from working ‘on’ us to working ‘within’ us. He begins to make us more and more like Christ, transforming our character so that we no longer ‘want’ to sin–rather, we now ‘want’ to follow God. We want to be more like Jesus. We want to say ‘no’ to worldliness and sin, and say ‘yes’ to godliness and obedience.
Yet, for far too many of us, that is where it stops. Our Christian life goes from ‘religious obedience to law’ to ‘desire to change’, but it stops there…we don’t actually see much change!
Is that as good as it gets?
Can we experience more?
At Kalamazoo Community Church (http://www.mykcc.org), we’ve been considering an important teaching of Jesus. He said (John 10:10), ‘The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they (His followers) might have life and have it to the full.”
Question: As a Believer, are you experiencing ‘Life…to the full’?
To me, this simply means ‘life the way that God designed it‘. Life–with Him as the Source, the Director and the Leader?
It is living ALL AREAS OF MY LIFE in willing subjection to Him…not out of fear, but out of faith. Out of love.
The Love of God is the ‘stream’ that the Christian life ‘flows’ from. If your Christian life is apathetic, stuck in ‘neutral’ or powerless, it’s probably because you’re not ‘in the flow’ of God’s love. You probably believe–with your mind–that God loves you and wants the best for you, but you haven’t really embraced it–with your heart.
…and therefore, you’re not going any ‘higher’ or ‘deeper’ anytime soon.
Around here we talk about ‘Relentlessly pursuing an ever-deepening relationship with God.’
This is what we’re talking about.
It is clear that none of us have gotten so close to Him that His character has ‘rubbed off on us’ sufficiently. This is not because He doesn’t want that closeness and intimacy with us, but because we may not really want it with Him–not if it means real change of lifestyle.
In many ways, it comes down to THIS DECISION (and I’m talking to the Believers):
Do you believe that this world–it’s philosophies and its stuff–holds the key to life and living? OR do you believe that the Love of God holds that key?
Which characterizes our lives more?
Which would other people–who don’t know you, except by how you live–identify for you?
If you think that This world has anything to offer, you’re sadly mistaken and have to do some serious reflection and consideration. In fact, it might just be time for Repentance!
After all, if–as a Believer in Jesus Christ–you (or I) have adopted a lifestyle which says ‘I love the stuff of this world more than Jesus’, or ‘I’m living for this world more than I’m living for God’s glory’, then here’s the hard, cold, truth: You have been unfaithful to God!
1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
James 4:4: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
This MATTERS to God!
He wants (and deserves) His children to love Him, worship Him, obey Him and willingly walk with Him! He’s certainly gone ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ to show His love for us…and His grace…but we, far too often, take that for granted.
Hence, our need to Repent of our ways and come to Him humbly, ready to ask Him to move in us, change us, and refine us…for His glory!
This is what James means, as he continues… “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:7-10).
This is certainly not ‘light and fluffy’ teaching, but James is (of course) correct!
Here’s the bottom line: God LOVES you and I with a passion!
He truly wants the best for us–now, and in eternity!
He genuinely wants to bless us with that ‘best’…in James’ words, to “Come near to us” and to “lift us up”.
…and He will do so!
However, He will not share His rightful place on the throne of our lives.
Pray about this. Get in a quiet place and ask God, ‘Lord, do I love this world more than I love You?’
Listen to what He says. Let Him take you through the areas of your life and ‘evaluate’ you…then respond in repentance (if necessary) and renewed worship and obedience.
Know this: Bringing our lives into conformity to His will is ALWAYS the best thing to do!
Surrender to God always leads to blessing!