A challenge has been issued to me this evening. I believe this challenge is from God and I'm not sure what the result will look like, nor do I know precisely what needs to be done quite yet but one thing is clear, I am now and need to continually be forced to face the truth of God with expectation and fear.
I've entitled this entry "Who do I love?" because I feel it's the question that is stirring within me and the answer that is coming up is neither pleasing to God nor me.
We've been having some teaching sessions from a revival preacher from South Africa named Dr. Francois Carr at our church this week. He came to town last night and spoke then, spoke again tonight and will do so again until Wednesday night. I will get to spend some time with him in a car for a little while on Thursday morning as I'll be driving him to his next stop. However, he addressed sin tonight, not so much the sin aspect as the standard God has for us. My discomfort, my lack of peace and understanding comes from a proud heart, unwilling to confess and ask forgiveness on a consistent basis.
As I read some Scripture after the session tonight, as I've been convicted strongly was the course of action needed for this evening, opening the pages to John I read a few chapters. I think John was a postmodern in his own rights. He was different than the others (Matthew, Mark and Luke) in his style and his approach to the message of the Gospel (ok enough heresy for now). I was led to John 14 and read through and one particular verse stayed in my mind as it relates to the topic of the talk tonight.
John 14:21 - "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
Now before I reason out why that verse stuck, or sticks...allow me to expand on the teaching from earlier. Dr. Carr spoke of pleasing God, essentially what the verse above is saying, though he used other proof texts. He used an example of someone speaking somewhere after which a person came to the preacher and said they disagreed with what he had said. This was a woman who was upset because she felt he had lied. Taking a verse from Scripture, in 1John 3, "we have confidence before God and receive anything we ask". She felt this a lie because she had not received what she asked for. Though a noble desire, she was praying for her husband's heart to change, she had not seen it. The preacher asked her to read the rest of the verse, she did, "because we obey his commands and do what please him." Only after it being pointed out to her did she realize that nothing in her lifestyle coincided with this verse. At which moment God began to stir within me as if to say "This is why things are so difficult right now".
Then I read John 14 and the verse I quoted earlier resonated within my heart. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." Who do I love? Well I'm not sure it Jesus lately. I have the commands, but the obedience part has not been so evident. I say I love God, I say I would do anything for him, but my consistent refusal (whether conscious or not) to obey his commands consistent takes me another notch further from God. Because even as this verse continues "He who loves me will be loved by my Father". If I don't love Christ, how can I expect love from God? Now I know I have to be careful here because God's love is abundant and for all, he loves those who don't love him back. But similar to the woman spoken of previously, how can I expect God to step in and step up to aid me in life (however needed or wanted) if I show no commitment to him and no obedience to his constant voice in my ear? Or how can I hear him if I'm not listening?
Whoever obeys my commands is the one who loves me, and he who loves me is loved by my Father...wow, that's a significant statement. And then the end of the verse, "and I too will love him and show myself to him."
It's like a chain reaction. We experience the abundance of God's love and Jesus reveals himself to us (though God first loved us, I recognize that), only after we hear and obey his commands to show we love him.
Who do I love? Me! At least that's the way I've been living. Who do I want to love? God. Or rather, who do I want to please...God.
Confession, repentance and forgiveness are a package deal.
May God forgive me for a lifestyle not completely devoted to him, for looking to myself instead of him, for forgetting that he's within me and beside me always and may I walk in freedom and step by step be attuned to the Spirit of God.