Imagine a man coming to you and posing the question, “why should I get to know my wife better? Why help out with the kids? What is so special about date night anyway? We are already married, I made my vows to her back on our wedding day and it was then that I expressed my love and feelings towards her. Why should I do anything more? It is not somehow going to make me more married to her or make her more of a wife to me.”
How would you respond to this? Could it be that even finding a response would be difficult? It seems almost absurd that anyone would ask such a question. On some level it would be fair to say this person has a misunderstanding of marriage, or worse yet, a painfully distorted view of love and commitment. Yet we have all been or still are in this place, struggling to love and pursue someone in a way that mirrors how Christ loved us.
Unfortunately, we frequently have similar misunderstandings about our faith. Just like the married man, we too can ask some poor questions. “Why read the Bible? we may ask. Why is being a part of a local church so important? Is prayer really that powerful? Yeah so what, I fall asleep every time a sermon is preached.”
As I have pondered many of these questions and wrestled through them at times, I have seen in my own life that I tend to treat a relationship with my heavenly father vastly different then I would my earthly relationships. Sure, I would call the married man a fool for saying such things, yet what about me, a man who professes love for God?
Allow me to go back to the marriage analogy, for the man demonstrates by his actions his own love for his wife. In other words, his love is the fuel that propels himself to act on behalf of the object of his love, in this case his wife is the object of his love. Service and sacrifice become the logical response when someone or something becomes the object of our love. They become the outward response to what is going on internally in our hearts.
Therefore, to say we believe the gospel to be true and that we love God, yet not be compelled to act upon that love, is to demonstrate by our lack of action a misunderstanding of the gospel. Sure, we may still be saved eternally, but might it be possible that we are missing out on all that God would desire to do and accomplish through us? To be indifferent about the saving work of Christ Jesus who before the foundations of the world chose us to be holy and blameless before him, is to show by our lack of action we never fully understood the state of our soul before God.
Sure, the married man does not become more of her husband the more he does for his wife, but he does begin to experience relationship with her unlike that of which he has ever known. As they do things for one another, they get lost in their love and continue to dive further into their relationship with each other. Likewise, as we begin to pursue and strive after Christ, we progressively see more of his immeasurable grace amidst our fickle and shaky faith. We ultimately see perfect love on display, love so fierce that it drove him to the cross to be crucified in our place.
Love for God is not cheap. In fact, His love demands our life, and to give him anything less is to rob him of the glory and honor he deserves. Yet, just as the husband willfully gives himself to his wife in order that they may love and cherish one another in a mutual experience of sacrifice and commitment, so it is with God. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and has given us an inheritance laid up for us in heaven. He has promised to bear our burdens, and has promised us peace in the turbulent times, and joy amidst the suffering. Ultimately he has promised us himself and the gift of eternal life in his perfect presence free from the troubles and worries of life.
So to whom will we give our affection? This is not a plea to stop loving those dear in our life or to become apathetic to the things of this world. Rather, it is a reminder and a prayer to pause and ask ourselves, who is most deserving of our love? May we all see God’s love made perfect in the person and work of Jesus and may that love compel us to truly love God and love others.