Loving God had become exhausting. I was journaling through Psalms, praying the Daily Office, doing a Scripture memory program, worshiping weekly, participating in a small group, reading recommended Christian living books, making casseroles for a homeless shelter, mentoring children, examining every conversation to turn it into a spiritual one, etc etc etc.
Loving God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind had grown so very complicated.
I wanted to “bear fruit.” The advice of the spiritually mature women and men in my life, rang loudly in my brain. I incorporated their words into my daily life. All of them. I kept adding more and more to my spiritual to-do list. In the beginning, each discipline and practice directed my focus to the Lord. But then duty began replacing love for God.
Our 21st century expectations have complicated how to love God. Without realizing it, we have allowed our worldview to define the expression of divine love. Scholars and pastors recommend, prescribe, organize, and categorize. Resources abound. Then, overwhelmed, we toss weary hands in the air lost in the futility of ever living a faithful life in Christ.
Hit the Pause button.
Let’s return to the core of our faith. Consider grace and salvation. How does our present-day worldview impact our understanding of the these two pillars in our love for God?
Grace. In our culture of fairness, we struggle with grace. Jesus illustrated it with the parable of the vineyard owner (Matthew 20:1-16). At the end of the day the owner paid all workers the same salary, even the ones who arrived for one hour’s labor. Jesus’ message was clear: The reward of eternal life is given to all who believe. The woman who follows Christ for a lifetime receives the same reward as the thief on the cross with a last minute confession of faith. It is not complicated but we tend to add requirements along the way.
Salvation. In our achievement-oriented lives, we earn things. We earn grades, we earn rewards, we earn promotions. The free gift of eternal life in Christ does not compute. We add practices and disciplines to master. It was equally not understood some 2,000 years ago. The prison guard in Philippi asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved…” (Acts 16:31). Simple.
Our efforts to draw actionable tasks from the pages of Scripture, complicate our love for God. The terms quiet times, four spiritual laws, and Sunday School are not in the Greek or Hebrew texts of our Bible. They offer biblically-based models to help guide our earthly journey. True. Ultimately, though, some of these models have become a testing ground instead of the helpful tool originally intended. They have become the ends instead of the means. We lose sight of the ultimate goal: to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.
In our exuberance to equip and disciple, we have added classes and sinner’s prayers and memberships to new believers. We test spiritual gifts, observe liquor intake, and evaluate tithing trends. Our goals may be pure but the resulting policies and procedures become quite complex, and in some cases, counter-productive.
Checklist Love for God
When I started taking greater joy in checking “Prayer” and “Review memory verse” on my to-do list than I did in my morning prayer, I knew it was time for a re-calibration.
My completed checklist validated my achievement-oriented self but my love for God had become dull and dry.
Ultimately, love for God most genuinely flows out of the desires of my heart and not the checkboxes on a page. My expression of this love emerges in my choices throughout the day. I am able to be a servant to my neighbor when my faith and hope fully reside in God.
It’s a simple, child-like love for God.
If your passion for God has become lukewarm, pause and remember His amazing grace. Praise Him using the words in the Psalms. With utter humility, thank Him for the sacrificial gift of eternal salvation. Step back from the readings, practices, and busyness of spirituality to express your love overflowing.
Joy. Peace. Fruit. Growth. It all flows out of our simple expression of love for God.
Posted by Sharon R Hoover