Thursday, October 7, 2010

Loving Jesus

A group from my church has been reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love. We have recently wrestled with the question, What does it mean to love Jesus? We talk loving Jesus alot, we sing about it in songs, and I know that many of us have experienced it, but how do we define it? Forgive me if the following raises as many questions as it does answers!

As I talk to fellow believers about our walks with the Lord, often time they say things are going well or not well because "I have (not) read my Bible and prayed daily." I often analyze my walk in the same way. Now these are good and necessary spiritual disciplines without a doubt, but we can't say that daily Bible time and daily prayer is the definition or sum of loving Jesus. Also the following verses and comments affect my thoughts...

John 14:15- "If you love me, you will keep my commandments..." This doesn't means that the essence of love is necessarily commandment-keeping. Or does it? It seems that commandment-keeping is a result of love for Jesus. For example, "If I love Kelley, I will pray for her..." Praying for her is not the sum or essence of love, but a result (or proof) that love is present. Maybe, maybe not?

1 John 5:3- "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." Here it seems that John does equate love for Jesus with obedience/commandment-keeping. However, he adds that this obedience happens in such a way that it is not a burden! What does that mean? True love for Jesus, it seems, is obeying His commands- and being glad to do it! But then, if that's the case, how do we ever love Jesus through trials and hard times that are very "burdensome"?

1 Corinthians 13:3- "If I give away all that I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." This seems to argue against many definitions I've heard of "agape" love, that it is simply and heartlessly choosing to sacrifice. Paul uses grand examples of willing sacrificial acts (giving away all possessions, giving oneself over to horrible death), but says that those crazy things can be done - without love.

I ask and struggle through all this because I am simply unsatisifed with equating my spiritual walk and love for the Lord with a few daily hoops to jump through. Feel free to comment.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Be Holy (don't just be thought of as holy)

God tells his people in no uncertain terms to "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16; Lev. 11:14). It is obviously a command that we can't follow apart from God's grace. Nevertheless, it is a clear command for all followers of Jesus to actually be holy.

If you are anything like me, you care about what other people think of you. You and I struggle with valuing man and man's opinion over God and His opinion. In fact, I struggle with wanting people to think I'm holy. If I am to be brutally honest with myself, sometimes I don't care so much about actually being holy- rather, I care that others see me as holy. However, since those around me can't see my heart, my thoughts, and my desires, I can fool them into thinking of me as holy by a few simple tasks. Serve in the church, post a few Bible verses on twitter, and make friends with other holy people. God, on the other hand, I cannot fool with my faux holiness.

When we exhibit this attitude, it disgusts God. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean" (Matthew 23:25-26).

That describes my sinful heart at times. If the outside of the cup is clean, and you think I'm holy, my spiritual mission is accomplished, and my work is done. That is simply detestable. What I must care about is actually being holy before God, regardless of whether others think of me that way or not! I paraphrase an old friend from The Master's College who said, "I'd rather be a holy man with no reputation than an evil man with a holy man's reputation."

How about you? Do you really want to be holy? Or do you simply care that others see you as spiritual? What does it mean to truly be holy before God?