I have a long time friend, Mike, I have known since we served together in the Navy back in the early eighties. He and I have managed to keep in touch and we talk together frequently, mostly by text messaging. Besides pre-pubescent level insanity befitting two guys in their mid fifties, we share epiphanies and inspirations and often learn from one another. Here is the sum of what Mike opened with recently:
What direction is love in your life? If your theology hinges on your love for God, then the blood and the cross eventually take second place. This can produce a compulsion to work and brag about your love for God and thinking you have “levels of faith”.
Interesting. Wouldn’t you say?
So much of the Church has gone the way of professing their love for God and the result is a misinterpretation of what it means to love God. If it becomes strictly a matter of us loving Him, then the Cross means nothing.
It starts with the Cross…His love for us.
We read, “Love the Lord with all you heart, all your soul and all your mind.” However, this has become something of a doctrine of our effort toward salvation and approval by God. It is as if they promote a gauge of how much a person loves God, which is measured in words and deeds. In other words, the more work you do and the louder you can shout and profess your love for God, the more approved you are and the greater the proof of your salvation.
If you ask me, this sounds tiresome. How do these “professors” and their faithful followers keep up with this? Well, it’s like that commercial for a brand of anti-depression medication, where the people carry a paper smiley-face mask with them. They put on a facade.
Fake it? Yes. Put on a happy face. Therefore, all this profession is a facade in front of others along with an attempt to impress God.
Impress God? As if.
How can anyone impress the Creator of the Universe? Peasants.
His love for us, however, outshines anything we can even attempt to do to impress Him. He isn’t impressed with us or anything we do. He loves us.
Law is profession.
It takes no faith to profess something. You can shout anything you want from whatever vast knowledge or belief you may or may not have. Profession takes no faith. There are plenty of pulpit-pounding purveyors of various doctrines out there who profess stuff they don’t understand or necessarily believe. Confession, however, does.
Love is confession
We confess that He loves us. Since we know He loves us, we love Him in return.
Parents, your children’s love for you is out of response to your love for them. You don’t demand or command that they love you. They love you because they know you love them.
How much more does the Father love us?
The danger of enforcing profession.
When leaders profess love for God and enforce (encourage?) the profession of love for God by others, what happens is individual efforts to impress God with our love for Him. What we may see is people straining to reach God, singing and shouting loudly during “worship service”, as if the louder and more exuberant they become, the more obvious it will be to God how much they love Him. Many of these people are insecure in the idea of God’s love for them.
Another, probably bigger danger is the judgmental statements that start with, “If you truly love the Lord…”. This forces people to profess and/or prove their love for the Lord. It results in the facade of behavioral modification.
God. Loves. You.
Learn that. Agree with it. Believe it. Know it. Take refuge in that. Just sit back and know that He loves you. Know that His work on the Cross is sufficient. Did He not say, “It is finished.”? We don’t need to stress and strain or prove our love for Him…He loves us, no matter what.
When we embrace the fact that He loves us, our love for Him follows. Then, we begin to act on that love, when He calls, commands or speaks to us…and we obey because we love Him. We do for Him out of our love for Him and our love for Him is in response to His love for us.
Knowing how loved we are prompts, propels and compels us to love and serve Him.
A very busy man in ministry was once asked how he did all that he did, with the travel and ridiculous schedule. His reply, “I know that I know that God loves me.”
Let’s not gauge our spirituality or our standing by how much (we think) we love God. Let’s not measure how much we love God by what we do, how we do it or how we behave. This is backward. Our love is incomplete, impure and has its share of conditions and reservations.
We need to go back to the Cross.
We need to remember how completely and unconditionally He loves us.
1 John 4:10 (NIV), This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
This gives us a good starting point toward loving Him. First – and always – His love, proven at the Cross. Then, our love for Him follows. It is more organic than demanded.