Love. It’s a warm word that’s filled with positive vibes that make us feel fuzzy inside and stir up feelings of acceptance and joy. Yet, when it comes to our love for God, we put it into a category all by itself. We misrepresent the meaning of love…
Since we just celebrated Valentine’s Day, let me give you an analogy that may help you recognize the false love that is all too prevalent in our churches.
I love my amazing husband, and he lovingly cares for my heart. He is, indeed, my best friend, and I love spending time with him. Our Valentine’s Day date was truly special. But, now, let’s pretend for a minute that I have special dates with my husband, I tell him that I love him, I respect and obey him, I wash his clothes and cook his meals. However, in spite of all that, my heart is not committed to him. Am I giving a distorted view of my love for him?
Let me give another example…One of our daughters is strong-willed and her nature is to state her case quite emphatically. Another one of our daughters is just the opposite, and she’s more prone to keep her feelings bottled up inside. Would I rather have my daughters act out where I can see the struggle and address it, or have a child who is obeying me, yet not obeying from the heart or for the right reasons, only to have a big issue later on? Of course, my desire is for them to obey because of their love for me and not because of the consequences they’ll receive if they don’t.
I recently heard someone share a message about the church at Ephesus and it challenged me. In Revelations 2:2-3 God said, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Do you see all the good that the Ephesians were doing? Wow! That church really had their act together, didn’t they? Now let me ask you..How do YOUR works today compare to the church at Ephesus? Could God say this of your works?
But now, let’s see what God says in the next verse about them, “…Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”
Can you see that in spite of all their hard work and obedience to God, they still lacked one thing? Their first, true love for God was lost. All their hard work and obedience wasn’t enough to have an acceptable relationship with God.
Now this is the distorted concept that has been portrayed in the church for far too long: Obedience = love.
When we obey God and what His word teaches, it’s an obvious sign that we love Him, right? We often measure others’ amount of love for God by their works and acts of obedience. But this is very wrong! Obedience does NOT equal love. Period.
Can you see the correlation of the church at Ephesus and many Christians today? Can you see how so many of us have been misled to believe that obedience always equals love?
We often conclude that as long as we LOOK like a good Christian, ACT like a good Christian, and TALK like a good Christian, we must BE a good Christian. In reality, we’ve been taught how to become good hypocrites! We’ve been distorting what true love for God looks like.
God doesn’t say that He will bless our obedience and works for Him, He said He will bless our SEEKING of Him. (2 Chron. 26:5- “And He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.
Do you realize that all the things I mentioned about my hypothetical relationship with my husband could easily apply to what a woman trapped as a sex slave would do for her master? She would do these things because of the consequences she’d receive if she didn’t do them. Her obedience doesn’t equal love.
In the same way, we can make our children obey us, but their obedience won’t actually equal love for us either.
Too many times, we obey God, not because of the relationship we have with Him, but because of what others think of us…and because of what we think will happen to us if we don’t. Secretly, we wish we could have the “freedom” others have or we merely serve God because we want His blessings. Our obedience isn’t the result of love, but merely an”act” of love.
My friend, an “act” of love and obedience will never qualify for your salvation or an acceptable relationship with the Almighty God. Unless true love is the motivation of your obedience, your obedience is simply in vain. You see, obedience doesn’t equal love, but love always DOES equal obedience. We need to get this order straight. My husband wouldn’t feel very loved and appreciate my good deeds if they were simply an “act” of love rather than the result of my love for him. In much the same way, God knows our hearts and He desires much more than outward obedience and “acts,” He wants our deeply committed LOVE.
Let’s purpose to show a disillusioned world the true meaning of loving God.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)