Everyday Faith, Loving God
As this is the fifth installment in the Everyday Faith series, it seems a good time to summarize the series thus far briefly:
I started with the premise that the ultimate goal of our journey as Christians is to reach a point in which we are living exclusively to glorify God. The key statement being that we seek to live "all for His glory". While it is unlikely that we will ever, because of our weakness and sin, be able to reach that level of perfection, we can continue to submit ourselves to be continually perfected in Christ by exercising "everyday faith" in our walk.
Essentially, we experience continual growth in spiritual maturity through the daily exercise of the four components of our WALK. WALK serving as an acronym for Worshipping God, Advancing God's Kingdom, Loving God and Knowing God. With the practical objective being to commit to at least a fifteen minute application of each of the four components every single day.
I am now discussing the four components and offering suggestions for activities which may meet our desired goal of fifteen minutes of exercise for each everyday.
In my entry for "Worshipping God", I suggested that the reason that we do so is that we want to "imitate God" and put forth the statement, paraphrased from N. T. Wright, “That which you worship is that which you emulate. The more time and focus that you spend worshipping something, the stronger the resemblance.” for consideration.
In my entry for "Advancing God's Kingdom", I discussed the importance of stepping outside our comfort zone for God and two major obstacles we must overcome to Advance God's Kingdom daily: Want of Confidence and Want for Credit.
I encourage you to read the other articles in the series (a link is provided at the bottom of this article), if you have not already, before continuing on. We are trying to develop some practical building blocks for our exercise of everyday faith that propels us closer to living All for His glory.
And, now that we are all on the same page let's move on to the "L" in our WALK…
If there is anything that can be written about love, as a noun, it has pretty much been written, or sang. Anyone that has experienced love in all it’s purity can testify to the feeling that literally can leave you breathless in anticipation or anguished over loss.
There is a simple truth upon which all of our lives, both temporal in the flesh and eternal in the spirit, depend: God is love and He is loving us. Right now, He is loving you with an incomparable intensity. His loving has never been what the world defines as loving. He is not loving us by looking at us longingly, or batting His eyes coyly, or wringing His hands in anticipation of us. His love for us is the ultimate verb. It is a love that is fully active and fully demonstrated.
We know that God loves us, but how often do we realize that He is loving us. Consider the following scriptures:
“But because the Lord loved you…He brought you out…” Deut 7:8
“The Lord loved him and He sent…” 2Sam 12:24-25
“I have loved you…and I will build you…” Jeremiah 31:3,4
“For God so loved…that He gave…” John 3:16
And maybe the most telling verse about the way that God is loving us:
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
See our God is not just love, He is love in action. He loves and brings, He loves and sends, He loves and builds, He loves and gives…He demonstrates the great love He feels.
He does not talk a good game and leave you guessing, He demonstrates His love through actions which eliminate any shred of doubt as to the magnitude of His desire for us.
Great, you say, but I am not God. No, you are not…but do you love God? Absolutely, you tell him that all the time in worship. More importantly though, are you loving God? And even more to the point, how are you demonstrating it?
Uh oh, by now I’m sure that there are some out there saying, “Oh great, time to switch channels, Aaron’s telling me I have to prove my love for God.”
Not at all, God knows your heart, and it has nothing to do with having to prove anything to Him. Why? Because He loves you.
I really dislike gardening, I’m one of those pave the whole yard kind of guys. I have never particularly had an interest in the difference between begonias and tulips. And I really detest weeding and rototilling, I consider them a bane on humanity, especially this human. But come every spring I go out and weed with my wife and I even occasionally till the big garden area we have been blessed with. Why?...because I love my wife, and she loves her garden.
And no matter how many times I say that I love her, I desire to demonstrate that love by stepping out of my comfort zone, turning off the football game, without her making a request.
Let’s think about that in relationship to God. We know that He loves you and we know that He loves His church. The setup is perfect, let’s demonstrate our devotion to God by loving Him in service to His bride, the church.
It’s important for us, before proceeding, to dispel a fallacy that you may have grown up with from childhood.
What is the opposite of love?
Did you say “hate”?
Probably, because that is what we have been conditioned to think. So, that leads us to the next question, do you just have to not be hating God, to be loving God? Doesn’t make sense does it? That is because, in my opinion, the opposite of love is not hate…it is apathy.
Just as service is the demonstration of our love for God, not serving is a demonstration of our apathy toward God’s love. It certainly is not a measure of our hate for God.
I am not twisting logic here, I’m just being honest. If I choose not to till or weed the garden, it is not a sign that I hate my wife, it is a sign of my apathy toward demonstrating my love for her.
So let’s get down to brass tacks here, I am confident that you love God, God knows that you love Him, but how does the world know that you have a God worth loving? Isn’t that, in the final summation, our witness to the world.
We have a God that is worth loving.
And he’s so worthy of loving that we are willing to demonstrate our love in ways that take us way out of our comfort zone.
Ask a missionary in an area hostile to Christians: Why is it worth their freedom, and possibly their lives, to share the good news of Jesus Christ? It is because we have a God worth loving.
Ask a Christian doctor or nurse caring for the sick in a disease ravaged community: Why is it worth your health and separation from your children to treat strangers? It is because we have a God worth loving.
Ask a successful professional that eats at expensive restaurants, meets famous people, and lives in abundance, why they don a washed-out apron and stand beneath a bridge in the dead of winter and the heat of summer, week in and week out, serving food and encouragement to those who have nothing but the cement to sleep on? It is because we have a God worth loving.
We have a God worth loving.
In my last post I talked a little about the “Want for Credit” obstacle to advancing God’s Kingdom, it is just as much an obstacle for loving God as well. There are many reasons people serve in the Body of Christ, but there is only one God glorifying reason:
There are those that serve seeking adulation for their sacrifice. They are demonstrating their love for status.
There are those that serve seeking approval for their sacrifice. They are demonstrating their love for belonging.
There are those that serve because they feel guilty about not serving. They are demonstrating their love for peace of conscience.
There are those that serve because they enjoy the fellowship. They are demonstrating their love for camaraderie.
And there are those that serve for all for His glory. They are demonstrating their love for God.
I work during the week, and I work hard. I work to provide for my family as many of you do. It is a demonstration of my love for them, and I do it daily for eight or more hours. Except for Saturday when I usually weed or till. I am certain that many of your share the same experience.
The question is: Why, since we all love God, are we not spending some daily time loving Him in service? And to that point, how can we justify only fifteen minutes of demonstration, or even no demonstration, to a God that is so…so worthy of loving?
Here are some suggestions for how you might demonstrate your love for God for fifteen minutes a day:
1) Learn more about gleaning projects in your area, fond out where they pickup food or clothing and plan your route to or from work to stop by the retailers and drop food and clothing by the church. Or, start hitting a different store every night to set up relationships for donations.
2) Learn basic sewing and sew “onesies” or repair clothing for fifteen minutes a day for the needy in your area.
3) Stop by your church and ask for an area that you can spend a few minutes each day weeding or tending to contribute ot the upkeep of God’s house.
4) Find out if there are any elderly or needy people in the church which live in your area, locate four or five and then offer to mow their lawn, or weed their gardens or clean their gutters.
5) If you have some mechanical ability, offer to stop by and tune up the cars or change the oil for other brothers and sisters in Christ, or simply in need.
6) Find out if there are any mid-week ministries that you can help out administratively.
But most of all, do not do anything because of what I have written, do it because:
We have a God worth loving
And do it as an exercise in everyday faith...all for His glory.
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