When I say, “I love God,” what do I mean?
If I came to your church this week and asked, "How many of you love God?" I am confident that almost everyone present would raise their hand. It would not surprise me to hear an "Amen!" or a whoop or a holler. That’s what I expect, in that setting, with a group of people in a church building.
Lately, I’ve wondered if the statements, “I love God” and “I love Jesus,” have become clichés for me. Have they become general declarations of my belonging “here,” with whatever church group I’m in at the time?
How can I know that I really love God? I question myself, "In this present moment, with these people, under these circumstances, do I think, feel, and act in a manner that God would describe as loving Him?"
Striving to Do Something Important vs. Loving God
Thinking back over the years, I have seen myself perform for the applause of people or attempt impressive back flips for God to earn His approval. In far too many moments, my thoughts, feelings, and actions were rooted in my desire not only to be accepted, but to be the “hero” riding in on the white horse to save the day. My claim of “I love God” sometimes had more to do with striving to do something important than it did with humble devotion and obedience to God.
At What Level of Our Capacity Does God Want Us to Love Him?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 NIV
What does Jesus want us to do to love Him?
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching… Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching…” John 14:23-24 NIV
A Helpful Love Diagnostic
At Play. Story. Eat. we want to be guided by the value of Love. We believe, that to love God, it is necessary to be wholistically and obediently responsive to the persons of God and His creation. In our friendships, training, and coaching we offer a way to become self-aware and examine our love for God. To help us think more concretely about it, we have created a diagnostic tool. (Circle the number that describes where you see yourself on the continuum.)
We suggest you choose a specific life circumstance and ask yourself:
In this present moment, with these people, under these circumstances:
Am I ...??
Grateful to God 6 5 4 3 2 1 Resentful of God
Trusting God 6 5 4 3 2 1 Doubting God
Obeying God 6 5 4 3 2 1 Resisting God
Serving God 6 5 4 3 2 1 Performing for God
If you circled 6 in all these categories, you see yourself as a perfect lover of God. Great! If you, like me, scored less, then you have some work to do. Based on your results, you might have a good idea of where to start.
For Me, It’s Letting Go of the Big Performance
When I make the time to review my past tendency to perform, whether it was in school or athletics or even in ministry, I can see how my underlying way of being can be a source for not loving God. (Can you see where that is on the chart?) This diagnostic tool has helped me to realize, when I do anything for God, I don't need to perform or earn His love. I can do whatever I am called to do with a sense of gratitude and a desire to serve Him and others.
I am learning that loving God and others is not a matter of checking boxes and executing a list of good deeds. My love for God is evident when, in the moment, I am grateful to Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, and serving Him with my whole being. Thankfully, He offers us the grace to learn and grow as we go.
10:02 PRAYER (LUKE 10:2)
Pray for the final preparations and fundraising for the two Open Range teams that will be going to Guatemala January 3-9 and 10-16. The first team will focus on rodeo events. The second team will do follow-up with several women's groups in the towns where we have cowboy ministries.
Pray for our friends in Jalpatagua, Guatemala. This past week, the president of their cattlemen's association was murdered. They canceled their fair and their parade because of it, but said they still want us to do what we were going to do on January 7th, because they believe it might help people in their grief. So please pray for them and our team.
Pray for the nation of Honduras. They have had major civil unrest in the past month due to a disputed presidential election. Demonstrations and riots have taken place, so until the smoke clears, we are not taking teams there. Pray that during this time our Christian brothers and sisters will shine in their faith and love towards those who don't know Him.
Several people who desire to go on mission trips this year could use some help. If you would like to be the answer to their prayers, let us know. We continue to be blessed by your financial support of this ministry during the final days of 2017. Thanks!
Christmas is a great time to play, tell stories, and eat! Be open to God using you in this wonderful time to engage in the lives of friends, family, and acquaintances.
Please join us at the next Play. Story. Eat. Experience
- When: Saturday, January 6th, 9 am - 5 pm
- Where: Cross Creek Baptist Mission, 1050 SW 15th St., Oak Grove, MO 64075
- What: Plenty of Fun, Connecting, & Eating; Lunch & Snacks Included
- Cost: No Fees - Donations Accepted