Loving God

When Working for God Becomes the Goal

Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

Even though I had my struggles as a teen, God had my heart. I wanted to serve Him. When I heard appeals from pastors or missionaries about being willing to give ourselves fully to Christ in full-time Christian service, my heart sang, “Let me!”

I remember one sermon where there was an appeal to young people. We were urged to have a heart that desired “to be somebody for God.” That spoke to me; I greatly desired to make a difference for eternity. God used appeals like this to move me on to Bible college to prepare to become a pastor, which later meant cross-cultural missions. I wanted to preach the Gospel and lead people to Christ, especially where He was little known. I wanted to do something hard for God. God gave that opportunity.

Could my motives have been colored by a desire to make my life important?

Striving for Significance

I grew up a with an old-school middle-class American Protestant work ethic. There are wonderful benefits to this work ethic on which I was raised, but there are some serious potential downsides as well.

For example, I am a self-motivated “go-getter” (type A personality) who is sorely tempted to find my worth and significance in what I can accomplish. If I don’t meet my expectations for myself, I am easily discouraged. Frustration over unmet personal goals or achievements constantly threatens me, though I am growing in grace. My struggle is a very common one, especially for others with a similar background to mine.

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Loving God Is Not Romantic

There is a big difference between loving God and “falling in love” or “being in love” with God. It is not only junior high girls who struggle with this issue, however. Confusing romantic love with “chesed”—God’s rich, loyal, covenant-keeping love—is an ancient tradition.

Song of Solomon

The origin of confusing loyal love for God with romantic love may stem from a sincere attempt to apply the Song of Solomon to the Christian life. Up until the late 19th century, the most common interpretation of this book was allegorical; it supposedly referred to the love Christ has for the church (and vice-versa).

The Song of Solomon (a.k.a., “Canticles” or “Song of Songs”) is a collection of romantic love songs. A number of interpreters have postulated theories to enhance the story line to help the book flow, but most modern conservative interpreters understand this book to be a collection of songs that describe the romantic (and erotic) love between a man and a woman (within some sort of narrative). It is intended for a mature audience; the rabbis would not allow a young man to read it until after his bar mitzvah (age 13).

Since this book was interpreted for so long by so many as a book depicting the relationship of Christ to the church, this assumption naturally created confusion between the love God has for us and the romantic love between a man and a woman.

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From the Archives: On Daily Devotions

devotionsOne from the SharperIron archive. Originally published in the Baptist Bulletin Nov/Dec 2011 and used here by permission. All rights reserved.

My wife and I were talking about the spiritual hazards in the current culture when she asked, “How do believers make it these days without daily quiet time?” This is a subject I rarely hear mentioned anymore. Maybe that’s because the matter is too personal.

Years ago a Bible college student confided that as he walked to breakfast on his first day of class, his suite-mate asked, “Well, George, what did the Lord give you in quiet time this morning?”

George’s mind worked fast. After the initial shock at the intrusion, he quickly made up something to tell. The next morning it happened again, and again he made up something to make himself look good. The third morning George got up earlier and prayed for the Lord to give him something he could share. From then on he had an appointment with the Lord and didn’t need any further prompting.

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