First Love

I know a pastor who took his wife on a date to the movies. The movie was a thoughtful comedy with a PG-13 rating.

After the movie, while standing in line for the restroom, the pastor reflected on the film.

He realized his 12-year-old son would love the movie.

He also realized the movie had a lot of cussing in it, and he really didn’t want his son to start cussing.

So he had a dilemma on his hands. He could take his son to see an enjoyable movie, or he could try to shelter his son from foul language.

Then he had a moment of clarity.

You know, he thought, I don’t care if my son cusses. I care if my son loves Jesus. And if he loves Jesus, he probably won’t cuss. Maybe I should help my son fall in love with Jesus. 

After resigning from my job, I’ve taken a two week sabbatical. I went into it thinking I’d seek the Lord and he would appear in a vision and tell me where to submit my resumé.

He didn’t.

Instead, every time I attempted to figure out my future employment situation, I felt the Spirit telling me to stop.

In my previous post, I mentioned that God wanted me to be still and remember his authority over all creation.

This past week, as I pondered my future, I read these words of Jesus:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15, ESV)

I won’t get into a complicated Greek word study (as if I could even do that) but these words of Jesus are indicative — which means they aren’t a command, they simply describe reality.

Jesus is saying our good work comes from whether or not we love him.

He continues, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5, ESV)

Loving Jesus produces fruitful obedience. Being apart from Jesus produces nothing.

If we want to honor God with our lives, we had better remember two things:

1. God doesn’t need us. (See last week’s post)

2. Any good work starts with loving Jesus.

We may think good works start with our resolve to stop cussin’, spittin’, and chewin’…

But good works are the result of a love for Jesus.

More seriously, we may believe that an obedient life begins when we put down the bottle, tell the truth, and apologize to those we’ve hurt.

When actually, the obedient life starts with loving Jesus.

Perhaps a God-honoring life is the result of reading the right book, listening to the right music, and spending time with the right people.

Or perhaps not, and Jesus is telling the truth when he says obedience comes from loving him.

But what does that even look like? Singing songs with our eyes closed?

Honestly, the only strategy I have is to get on my knees and beg God to give me a sincere affection for Jesus.

And I think that’s a prayer he is more than happy to answer.

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