TITLE: God is Not Codependent!
By Teri Van Pelt
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Often times, we approach God with a selfish attitude. We want to have our needs met and we often expect Him to cater to our every whim and desire. However, what we fail to realize is that God wants and needs our love. When we say that we love God, do we love him unconditionally?
I was looking at some familiar Bible verses the other day, I Corinthians 13:1-3
13:1 if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 13:3 and if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
I realized that I placed conditions on God in exchange for my devotion towards Him. I then began to examine my motivations for prayer, Bible study Christian service, and even the reason I had become a Christian in the first place.
Now do not get me wrong, I realize that God is our very source of existence and we do need to rely on Him for our strength and resource for living. For even, Christ said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” However, what I am referring to here is the motives of our heart in relation to how we approach God.
For instance, I know some people including myself that have had times that if the blessings of God were not apparent in one form or another doubt of His love became prevalent.
We live on this side of the cross, after the resurrection. Therefore, we have all assurance by His death, resurrection and infilling of our hearts that He does indeed loves us. However, the question remains. Do we love Him?
I think of the story regarding Peter after Christ rose from the dead. Jesus questioned the type of love that Peter had for Him. You even might have heard a sermon or two on this famous Bible passage regarding the different types love there are in the Greek language. Examine these three verses from the New American Standard Version Bible.
21:15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Tend My lambs." 21:16 He *said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." 21:17 He *said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" In addition, he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus *said to him, "Tend My sheep. John 21:15-17 NASV
When Jesus questions Peter about his love for Him the first two times in these verses, the Greek word for love that is used is Agape meaning unconditional love. However, Peter’s reply is, “Lord You know I love (Phi Leo) You.” Peter response to Jesus was to reply with a friendship kind of love has its base in conditions and expectations.. This goes on two more times. However, in the last verse Jesus questions a final time by using the Greek word Phi Leo instead of Agape. .It is then, that Peter out of humility and exasperation replies, “Lord You know I love (Agape) You!”
Jesus also expects Peter’s love to be unconditional towards God’s people. Jesus urges Peter to come up higher by loving the “Flock of God” and tending to the needs of the Church.
Jesus teaches us as His disciples to love the Lord God with all our hearts, soul and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. I believe God does not want us to seek only for his hand and His blessings upon our lives. He primarily wants us to come, because He is the Great I AM. Furthermore, in Mathew 6:33, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all the things you need shall be added to you…” (my paraphrase) It is important that you and I come out of a heart of adoration for who He is and not what He can do for us.
The other aspect that we must challenge ourselves is the basic attitude that God fails if He does not do things the way that seems right to us. You hear this in statements such as, “If God is love, then why are there hungry people in Africa and all over the world?” alternatively, “If God loved me He would have intervened in some way.” We get mad at God often for the consequences that we reap as a result to our own disobedience. In one way or another, we refuse to take responsibility for our own sins. This attitude began with the great fall of the human race in Genesis 3. God questioned Adam as to the reason he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. His reply shows us our own hearts. “The woman You gave me made me.” Adam not only pointed to Eve as the scapegoat for his folly, he ultimately blamed God for his disobedience.
God, from the beginning gave us a priceless gift. Understanding the responsibility that comes with this gift helps us understand the true nature of God. Our Heavenly Father gave us the freedom of choice. We are free agents to choose to follow Him or to go on our own away from God.
Perhaps we can understand the Gospel better by initiating the principal of unconditional surrender towards God. The story of the rich man that desires to follow Jesus exemplifies this point. Jesus response to him was not one of comfort and encouragement to the rich young ruler. It was rather an honest challenge of surrendering all in order to follow Him. This could be the very meat that Paul talks about in his epistles. He encourages us to leave elementary principals and go forward in to maturing as adults in Christ. When Paul speaks of the nature of true love in I Corinthians 13:5, “Love, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,” (NASV) The prevalent phrase here is, “Love does not seek its own…”
My intention is not to negate the importance of depending on God for all of our needs. My point is to exhort us to examine our hearts and motives in those times when God does not meet our needs the way we think He should. We must keep in the forefront of our minds that He is God and we our His children. I believe that it is His desire to give us good things and a good life. However, I also believe that He desires us to seek Him for the soul purpose of having relationship with Him. Let us love Him for who He is and not what He can do. For it is clear, we are guilty of the same sin as in the times of our Savior. Luke 11:29 emphasizes this point,” And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.” (Blue Letter Bible online) The sign of Jonah is repentance and coming to the Lord in the reverence He alone deserves. When we come to Him in humility, He truly will draw near to us. Therefore, let us love the Lord from a heart that seeks Him. For, Hebrews 10:22 exhorts us stating “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
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