Monday, January 31, 2011

The Consequences of Loving

I discussed a specific question a few weeks ago. Here it is again.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

Now, I’m going to add another question for you to consider…

Do you love Him?

Do you?

Go ahead and answer for yourself. Say it out loud.

If you said “yes!” you need to realize that there are consequences for loving Jesus Christ. Let's explore it.

Love is an interesting thing. (The fodder for poetry, novels, plays, movies…it never goes out of style.)

     Love is a force of nature. (We are made to love.)
          Love drives us to act in certain ways. (You can’t stop it. It just happens.)
               Love is the one thing that can make us look beyond ourselves.
                    Love drives us to GIVE.
                         Give your heart.
                         Give your service.
                         Give your time.
                         Give your money.

There was a man in Tuscon a few weeks back who was driven by love. He and his wife went to the store one morning; not to shop, but to encourage a congresswoman. Dorwin Stoddard and his wife, Mavy stopped by to see Gabrielle Giffords. Suddenly, shots rang out. Dory Stoddard didn’t dive under a table. He didn’t run for his life. No dodging behind a pillar.

No. Dorwin Stoddard, driven by love, pulled his wife to the ground, shielded her with his own body, and gave his life over to the bullet that perhaps would have taken his wife’s life instead.  He loved.  He gave.

You see….

How much you love is reflected by how much you are willing to GIVE!

Love drove God to give to us.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3: 14-17

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4: 9-10

God was driven by His love for us to send His Son.
          Jesus was driven by His love for us to lay down His life.

Is that love from God real to you? Do you realize what that means to you? Do you feel the impact in your life? Have you considered where you would be without it? What would your life be like if He had not given so much for you?

Two new questions:
Does God loving you DRIVE you to love Him? Does it drive you to love His church?

We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4: 19-21

If you feel the love of God in your life, it should (will) drive you to love your brother.

     That is an expectation that God has for us.

          Consider what Jesus said to Peter…

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

“If you love me, take care of my sheep!” GIVE. Give to my people! If you love me, give to my people. Give your love. Give your time. Give your service. Give your money.


Here is another thing about love. Its brilliance fades as we become comfortable.

In 1982, I took the woman who would become my wife out on our first date. In March of 1983, we began to “go steady.” Each month after that, I brought her carnations. Each month, I added another to the bunch that I would bring; one for each month we had been dating. In 1985, we got married, and the flowers slowed down….eventually becoming almost nonexistent for several years. I grew comfortable. I’m trying to rekindle that these days, but I’ve got a good deal of work to do to get back to where I was.  I am on the road, however.

The bottom line is that despite how much I love my wife, I had slacked off.

Don’t we do that with God too? I think we do. We grow comfortable, and we slack off.

Human relationships often fade over time.

The start is intense. Boy meets girl! Can’t get enough of each other. Can’t wait to be together. Spend hours together. They get married.

Time passes.

I’ve got her. I can relax now. A few pounds. A few whiskers. She knows I love her. Time together becomes something you squeeze in.

Time passes.

I’m putting up with her. She gets on my last nerve. Secret thoughts of others. You’d rather do anything but spend time together.

Time passes.

You’re done.

Early flames can wind down into fading embers. Fading embers become just a faint hint of a dying glow. Soon, there is only dead ash; blowing in the wind.

We get that way with God too.

Early Flames

• You feel the need for God in your life.

• You’re alive with passion for all things spiritual, and it shows on your face.

• You’re grateful for the Grace that God has provided you.

• You can’t get enough of being with God’s people.

• You can’t find enough ways to serve.

• You wish you had more money to give.

• Your heart is fully engaged.

Fading Embers

• God is an important PART of your life, but so are so many other things.

• You make time for church on a regular basis unless you find something else to do.

• You’ll serve…when it’s convenient.

• Extra stuff like Bible class or special events are not particularly appealing…after all, they’re just extra anyway.

• One of your favorite phrases on Sunday afternoon starts with “I don’t like it when…”

• Contribution is just one of your budget items.

Faint Hints of a Dying Glow

• God has become something you take for granted…or worse yet, an afterthought.

• You’ll go to church if you get up early enough, or if you don’t stay out too late on Saturday night.

• You’re too busy to serve in some ministry, and you’ve done your time there anyway

• Bible class? Wednesday night? Are you kidding?

• At least complaining isn’t a problem, because you don’t even think about church after you walk out the door—you’ve done your time. You’ve punched your clock. Time for lunch.

• Contribution? Well, maybe, if you have an extra dollar in your wallet or purse.

Dead Ash—Blowing in the Wind
• God? Who cares?

• I sleep in on Sundays.

• I’m here to serve numero uno.

• Bible? It’s on the shelf in the corner covered in dust.

• It’s my money. I earned it. I’m keeping it.

Take time to consider where you might fall in that progression. Which category best describes your relationship with God?

I’ve heard of married couples renewing their vows. They go off on a cruise or fly to Vegas, and once again after 25, 30, or maybe 50 years, they pledge their love for one another anew.

We can do that with God too.

As with any relationship that has faded a bit, it can be…





Or, perhaps you need to start at the beginning.  Maybe you need to ask God to "go steady."


Back to my original question…

Do you love Him?

Is that love driving you?

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3: 18

Loving Jesus Christ has consequences.

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