How Genuine is our Love & Pursuit of God Pt. 2
Last week after reviewing the two primary reasons why we are to pursue an intimate knowing the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, I introduced a third reason.
This third reason has to do with Ministry to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
It is to seek the face of God in intercession on behalf of one another that He might reveal Himself to us in a way which will season our words with Grace that they might be deposited in the heart and life of our fellow believers.
We capitalized on the fact that 2 Peter 1, which is the chapter we pretty much started this year with, gives us the prerequisites for a successful pursuit of knowing Christ more intimately.
The list essentially consists of things which automatically spring out of a heart of love and Devotion to God.
This set the pace for the rest of our time together last week and also where we are going with this topic this morning.
Our pursuit of God must first and foremost be about our love and Devotion to Him directly and quite distinct from any personal or Ministry benefits we might receive from such a Pursuit.
If our motivation is not love, then we will be greatly hindered in our pursuit of knowing Christ more intimately and ultimately it will come to a complete and total stop.
Now, as I was ending Sabbath last week and reflecting on how odd it was that in seeing Saturday now as the Sabbath and treating it as such… It seemed so natural to me, as if I had always known and practiced it this way. In my time of ceasing I decided to read a little in Galatians before sunset -which is the beginning of Sunday, the first day of the week.
As I was reading – the words “faith, believe and belief“ showed up frequently. I began to substitute the word trust for each of those occurrences and the relational story behind the encouragement and warnings leapt from the page in startling clarity.
In a moment, it all made sense.
God makes so much of knowing Him relationally and intimately, because it was the very thing that got distorted in satan at his fall and that he instigated in mankind by introducing doubt to Eve in the garden.
God’s answer was to love us so much that He gave. In fact the scriptures say that God COMMANDED His love towards us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
So the Father demonstrated His love as other translations say by giving the Son.
Of course the cross was necessary on other grounds but it also serves as the initial basis for trust again.
Once we believe and know His love, it begins a pursuit of knowing Him… which with each revelation swells into a new expression of trust in Him.
This IS eternal life – to know Him and as a result to trust Him.
But over time, we lose sight of the relational part of our trust in Him and our trust is replaced with “faith” and intimacy with knowing about Him and laboring for the kingdom is substituted for working the family estate.
In times like this, which we all experience – we need to recapture or be reminded of what drew us to Christ in the first place, what about Him captivated our minds and captured our hearts?
We need to ask ourselves the questions – Why did God pursue me, and why did I respond to His pursuit?
If any other answer than LOVE comes to mind then we can know for sure that we are at least one step away from our true beginnings. That is IF we truly are in Christ at all.
The answer from God to us is that “God so loved the world”, and each of us in particular.
The answer for each of us is that we opened our hearts with trust to the God WWho first revealed His love for us in giving His Son.
We really do need to be aware, but meaning deeply, penetratingly and totally convinced that to God our knowing Him is of utmost importance to Him.
It is common for us in our current state to grow cold with time and lose focus on what captured us at the beginning.
This is true in every arena of life. We are fickle and grow easily bored.
People who start businesses often do so out of a passion for something they love. 10 years in, and often less, they find that they are so caught up in the work of business that they scarcely remember what moved them to start their business in the first place.
The same is true in friendships, marriage, children and ultimately in our relationship with God.
In His letters to the churches, Jesus pleaded with those who had become so lost in service to and for God and the kingdom that they lost sight of WHY.
“I know what you do, how hard you work and never give up. I know that you don’t accept evil people. You have tested those who say they are apostles but are not. You found that they are liars. (3) You never stop trying. You have endured troubles for My name and have not given up.”
His next words however were “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
The Holman and English Standard translations put a finer point on it by saying,
“You have abandoned the love you had at first.”
And the ERV even finer still says,
“You have left the love you had in the beginning.”
But the Weymouth gets me every time when it translates it as,
“you no longer love Me as you did at first.”
Yet they were caught up on the work of the Kingdom and service FOR their Lord. In fact, the list of things Jesus acknowledged were to their credit in terms of labor, are things I think any modern Christian would be proud to wear.
- You work hard
- You don’t give up
- You don’t accept evil
- You test the lives and words of those who claim to represent and speak for Me.
- You are persistent
- You endure hardships for My name
It reminds me of Paul’s words in 1Cor. 13.
- speak with tongues
- Have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries
- Give all I have and genuinely sacrifice all for others
If I don’t have love – I have NOTHING!
What a value God seems to place on love. On knowing and being known.
It isn’t faith for faith’s sake alone that God is looking for. Remember, those who perform many amazing things in His name but who do not KNOW Him will be turned away on that day. He will tell them, “I never KNEW you.”
If that doesn’t remove the religious double talk and cut clean to the real issue I don’t know what does!
How many times did God bemoan His failed relationship with Israel saying in Jeremiah,
“I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when you entered, you defiled My land, and made My heritage an abomination. (8) The priests did not ask, Where is the LORD? and those who handle the law did not KNOW Me!”
“Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of My people! (2) Oh that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodging place, that I might leave My people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a company of treacherous men. (3) They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me, declares the LORD.”
This pursuit of God without passion, is a terrible state to fall into and one I believe we all fall into from time to time.
But there is a cure and Peter mentioned it as well in our opening passage.
Jesus said, “Therefore REMEMBER from what HIGH state you have fallen and change your heart. Do the kind of deeds you did at the beginning…”
It IS an important thing to seek God’s face on behalf of your fellow Christian and in order to discharge the dignity of your office if you are placed in the body AS A GIFT [See – Gifts, Ministries & Energies]. However, all of that MUST come from a personal well, that is full and springing up to eternal life.
If we have no ongoing personal intimacy with God, then we are not actually sharing Christ, but rather a gospel ABOUT Christ.
One is sterile, dead and stagnant waters -the other is clear, flowing and alive. One invites genuine thirst and the other repugnance and disdain.
It is significant that it was in the context of questioning Peter as to the nature and depth of his love for Him that Jesus told Peter, “Feed my little lambs and sheep” – Jn. 21:15-17
It IS important to seek God’s face for others and I want to make sure that is well understood. Such is the very heart of intercession and fasting. It is the point of all good teaching, preaching, pastoring, mentoring, parenting and every form of ministry work… but if the one sharing is not themselves the genuine article, then their words lack the punch of conviction.
WE ARE the testimony to Christ, we don’t just carry it… just as He said when He pointed to the great need we had for a Helper.
“Wait until you have received the power of the Spirit from the Father, THEN you will BE My witnesses!”
Not go do witnessing, but BE His witnesses. You cannot supply a valid witness to things you have not experienced.
For our words to be Rhema, words and lives seasoned with genuine grace we must be those who bear the testimony of a life changed.
I will never forget my teacher at Rhema who was teaching about being a good orator and delivering the message with accuracy and conviction, but that none of that would mean anything if we were not in the thick of communion with the Lord we preach every moment of every day ourselves.
Then in the passion of prophetic teaching they drew our attention to the man born blind in John 9.
His testimony was powerful and undoing. It challenged the religious elites to the point of anger and frustration having no way to gainsay his words.
Was he a preacher or teacher? No
Was he trained in evangelism? No
Was the man eloquent? Not particularly
I’ll give you one even better than that – he didn’t even know who Jesus was!
What made his words so powerfully moving and frustrating to those who knew and taught the law?
There was no way to argue with the evidence of a changed life!
The religious elite pulled him in for questioning a second time and threatened him to give glory to God by calling Jesus a sinner. He said,
“I do not know whether He is a sinner. I do know one thing – that although I was blind, now I can see.”
Later Jesus heard he’d been thrown out by the religious elite and so He sought him out and asked him,
“Do you believe in the Son of man?”
The man replied, “And Who is He, sir, that I may believe in Him?”
(37) Jesus told him, “You have seen Him; He is the One speaking with you.”
(38) He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him.” – John 9:35-38
Once I was blind, now I see! How can you argue with that!
So while it is right that we encourage one another towards intimacy with God and conformity to His likeness by growing in the grace and knowledge of the Father through our Lord Jesus.
.. we can add to these that it is also good to seek God’s face on behalf of our brethren.
But whatever we do in this pursuit of knowing the Father through Jesus, it must spring out of a real & Lacey genuine desire for Him that is genuine and sincere – first and foremost!
We need to live as if eternity was just going to be ourselves and God alone with no others to take away the unavoidable discomfort of an eternity with someone we barely know. No others to help relieve the focus of His attention on you alone. Now in that environment, how comfortable are you in His presence? Would you seek Him, pursue Him and live for Him if it were just you two alone and there were no repercussions for choosing otherwise?
Another, perhaps less poignant way of putting it is would eternity and Heaven be just as enjoyable to you if Jesus and the father were not there?
The greatest part of this morning’s lesson has yet to be taught and learned and that is one you HAVE to teach yourself.
This afternoon I am both instructing you and imploring you.
Listen to me… pinch yourself or stand up if you need to in order to take my words seriously.
TODAY – go back in your memory, maybe even your notes and relevant correspondence with others in order to go as near back to the beginnings of your love for Christ as possible.
Once there, spend some meaningful time in that place.
Ask the Holy Spirit to aid you in rekindling the flames of first love in your heart again.
I am convinced that even if Jesus removed a candle whether it be in your heart or in this church – it can be restored.
Whether you remember or not – HE does and He is unwilling to continue with those whose hearts are not completely His!