Aug 24, 2013

Do you love Him MORE?

I love worship music. I find that many worship songs perfectly express how I see God, or how I relate to Him. So, I am going {to try} to write weekly devotionals inspired by songs and scripture. If you want, you can listen to the song as you read the devotional, it was written with that intent.
This song is called Marvelous Light by Charlie Hall. Here are the lyrics:
I once was fatherless,a stranger with no hope; Your kindness wakened me, awakened me, from my sleep. Your love it beckons deeply, a call to come and die. By grace now I will come and take this life, take your life. Sin has lost it's power, death has lost it's sting. From the grave you've risen VICTORIOUSLY! Into marvelous light I'm running, out of darkness, out of shame. By the cross you are the truth, You are the life, you are the way. My dead heart now is beating, my deepest stains now clean. Your breath fills up my lungs. Now I'm free. now I'm free!/ Lift my hands and spin around, see the light that i have found. Oh the marvelous light, marvelous light. Lift my hands and spin see the light within... 

Matthew 19:16-29: A rich young man came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked.  And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

So, here was a young man who was clearly inspired by what he saw Jesus do.  He was interested in being useful to Christ.  So he asked a question he knew the answer to, because he felt secure in the knowledge that he already does the things he needs to, he already has all of those boxes checked off.   But that isn't really what Jesus was looking for.  It's not really what God is looking for. 

He's not looking for believers who look good on paper.  This young man is a "good guy" - he keeps the commandments, he seems to have an earnest desire to achieve eternal life. Truly this is about more than checking off the boxes, it's about the heart.

The man does what he needs to do, he goes to church, he tithes, he avoids sin and lives a life that is upright.  Why does Jesus say "sorry, bud, it's not enough".    Obviously it's not because he's rich.

It's because he is checking off boxes, but he isn't truly living a life of a living sacrifice.

God calls us in Romans 12:1-5
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

So what is the "pattern of the world" that Paul is discussing?  Obviously sinfulness, but what else?

I think as a believer I sometimes get a little comfortable in "doing enough" for Christ in ministry and life that I fail to see that I am no longer doing it for Him...  

I pat myself on the back... look at me! I go to church every week, I serve in various ways within the context of the church, I do my best to love my friends and family... SURE I'm not perfect, but I'm not (currently) breaking any of the 10 commandments... so I'm good to go.  Right?  I volunteer in my community, I help my kids with their homework and cook dinner, clean my house, check, check, check.   (I am sure you never do this, right?)

I must be better than those "other people" who aren't doing as much. God MUST be pleased with me.

But now I am going through a time of refining and God begins to strip away all the "good" things I am doing.  He begins to remove those "good" friendships and those "good" ministries and roles I serve.  Suddenly I stand bared for the world to see.  Suddenly I am not doing very much at all.

Has that ever happened to you?  Have you ever had a moment where you start to feel like you are "losing your identity" in every way, but in the ONE way that counts?  How did it make you feel?

I felt useless.  I felt abandoned.  BUT THEN I realize that none of those people really "needed" me... just someone who can fill that role.   So I have a moment of clarity, and Christ looks at me and loves me.

He loves me without all of that surrounding me.  He loves me in the midst of me becoming "useless", because it was there I realized that none of it matters.  I am not defined by volunteering at the school or at church or even what I do at home.  

I am defined by Him.  YOU are defined by Him.

Not just loved by Him... but embraced, lavished, extravagantly surrounded by Him.

I love Him MORE than what I can get from all of those roles and positions.
I love Him because of that MARVELOUS LIGHT I can run into.

It is so easy to allow our roles to define us, isn't it?  It's something that I figure I will struggle with for my whole life.  Do you ever struggle with allowing a role or a job define you?  How do you keep it in perspective?

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