Saturday, 3 January 2015

On Being in Love

Recently my dad, a widower, remarried a widow named Rosie. In the months leading up to the wedding, our family was once again reminded of what it looks like for someone to be in love. Unconsciously, my Dad would bring Rosie into every little aspect of our lives, even when she was absent from our house. 

“Would you like some carrots Dad”
“Yes please! Rosie cuts hers like this too!”

“Are you thirsty Dad?
“Yes, I am. Rosie drinks water.”

“How was your day Dad?”
“Well, I was just talking to Rosie and ...”

I think we have all seen this sort of behavior. Although I may have exaggerated a tad, I think you get the picture. My dad was behaving this way because he was in love. It was effortless.

I remember back to when my first child was born. My two friends and I would sit around for many hours talking about what our respective children had learned to do that week. It was effortless for us. One child was now following their mum around the room, one child had learned to roll etc. We loved to talk about our children and their progress.

I see the same thing in successful, long-term marriages. You can always spot them. The wife is always dropping the name of the husband in conversation, or vice versa. They want to acknowledge their lover in the everydayness of life. It too is effortless for them. It too is unconscious.

Likewise you can always spot the opposite. Those who never mention their spouse’s name, except in some sort of derogatory way. Their skepticism and sarcasm towards those within their family reeks of apostasy. For though they may be married in terms of the law, their hearts are not married anymore than two strangers. Though legally it would appear that they are in love, the reality is this is far from the truth.

I see the same thing amongst many ‘Christians’ - those who purport to love Jesus with all their heart, all their souls and all their minds and all their strength. They call themselves christians, but spend a day with them in conversation and not once will they speak of the Lord they say they love. Then, if you do happen to steer the conversation that way, they quickly either feign interest or abruptly end the conversation. I find this extremely telling. 

In my experience, this is just as common in a church foyer or church activity as anywhere else. This used to confuse me, for I couldn’t understand what they were doing there or why it was happening. Over the last 40 or so years, I’ve even met pastors and missionaries who don’t like to talk about the Lord. So don’t be confused by a person’s title or 'training' either. Jesus spoke a lot about this phenomena, but I will get to that later. These days we call this religion.

On the other hand, spend a day with those who love the Lord and the conversation can go for 4 hours, effortlessly describing all that God has done for them and is teaching them. They can not but help sing of God’s praises. They love Jesus. It is obvious to all. Not only do their words show their love for God, but their actions do also. By this I don’t mean religious activities, rather I am referring to a life free of sin, living in obedience to what the Lord says. To me, these are the true disciples of Jesus. As the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding”; or as Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruit” (Matt 7). In my experience these sorts of people are just as common outside a church building as they are inside. So don’t let that fool you either.

Jesus talked about this phenomena using a couple of different analogies. In Matthew 7, he speaks of the ridiculousness of a thornbush producing grapes. Everyone knows that is not possible. So likewise, a true disciple of Jesus will bear the fruit of Christlike behavior. In this same passage, he also speaks of wolves dressed up as sheep to illustrate that many people will externally imitate the disciples of Jesus but they will be counterfeits - so “watch out!”. These people will do lots of external amazing things for God but in reality, their hearts were far from him. Miracles and wonders are not in themselves a sign of a disciple of Jesus. Jesus says of them “I never knew you! Away from me you evildoers.”

The counterfeits do evil. They don’t obey Jesus’ commands. They don’t look like the Jesus of Scripture. Their hearts are not filled with love for the Lord. 

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus walked.” 1 John 2:3-6

“I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who exchange the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord.” Jude 1:3-4

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from it’s place.” Rev 2:4,5

Where is your heart?

Do you love the Jesus of Scripture or has he been misrepresented to you by the counterfeits?

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