I am often convicted that the key misunderstanding among Christians that produces qualities of apathy, confusion, legalism, and pride is in the matter of what it is to which we have basically been called.
It is true that you and I are called to serve God, but it is not our primary calling. It is true that you and I are meant to learn of God and His Word, but the reason we do so is not so that we can just be impressive reservoirs of useless information. It is true that we are to not live like the world or buy into its value system, but the reason is not that we might be able to look down our noses on others or point to our spiritual superiority. And it is true that we are called to lives of great value and worth, but it is not so we can revel in our own uniqueness or squander our gifts and opportunities upon our selfish desires.
It is to love that we have been called. We are called to be loved by God (living according to His pleasure and purposes for us) and enjoying the delight in which He lavishes upon us; and we are called to love God with all our being, rendering to Him a passion and devotion that usually only appears in counterfeit forms in Hollywood love stories or sappy songs that make us groan inwardly. Far different from our shallow ideas of love is the love God intends for us. The love relationship for which we are made is not an imaginary apparition that we chase in vain, nor is it simply an emotional byproduct of wishful thinking. The love to which we have been called is both real and true.
First, consider the “realness” of God’s own love for you. It exists whether or not you recognize or accept it. It is there even if you do not believe in it, hence the need for the Bible to remind us of it.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39 ESV).
If that promise of His love is not enough for you, then consider the “proof” (or demonstration) of His love.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.…. By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us…. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (John 3:16, 1 John 3:16a, 4:9-10 ESV).
In other words, God’s love for you is so “true” that He gave His only Son for you, sinless and perfect though He is. Furthermore, His love for you is so “real” that it has tremendous power over your life, your circumstances, your past and your future.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32 ESV).
It is to love that you have been called: to be loved and to love Him in return.
“Whoever has My commandments,” said Jesus, “and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21 ESV).
This basically means that we are to go beyond lip-service and Sunday morning religion and enter into a daily love-relationship with God that supersedes all other priorities, passions, and pursuits. Loving God and enjoying His love in return is more than just going to church. It is more than just living a moral and (self) righteous life. It’s about giving your heart away to the One Who made you and died for you. It’s about romancing the heart of God with a passionate clinging to Him, His Word, and His leading by His Holy Spirit.
Do not settle for mediocre and ho-hum Christianity. Chase after God and let the power of His love change you. Are you in doubt about whether or not He can love you? Then go back to what His Word says. His love for you is not founded on your appearance, your finances, your ability to do “great things” for Him, your not having miserable failures in the past, or even your good intentions. He loves you simply because He is love (see 1 John 4:16).
And as you allow the soothing waters of God’s love surround you and flow into you, with cleansing and healing power, let them flow through you that the love of God which has rescued you from sin and death, reach the parched desert shores of lives that have not yet been reached or transformed by this love that has been revealed to us through Jesus Christ.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:16-18a ESV).
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.