If there is a rampant problem in American churches, it probably boils down to this – we just don’t love Jesus enough. Or as Leonard Ravenhill wrote in Why Revival Tarries, it’s not that we don’t love God, it’s that we’ve found things we love more than God. The problem is, you can’t serve two masters – you’ll love one and hate the other, by comparison at least. Things will never go as they should for you if Jesus is not your first love.
If you were to ask most Christians, “Do you love Jesus?” they would probably be puzzled and think, “Oh, yes, I love Him. I have warm feelings for Him. He makes me feel good.”
The thing is, “agape” LOVE in the Bible is not an ushy-gushy warm emotional feeling. Love is willing to give of itself for the other. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 has quite a list of real love’s characteristics, none of which have to do with warm romantic feelings.) Love will inconvenience itself for someone else. Jesus proved His love to us when He went to the cross to be punished for all we did even though He had never sinned. To say the cross was inconvenient would be a drastic understatement.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John said, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” If you love Jesus, that means that you are willing to lay your life down for Him and for others. It is meaningless to say, “I love Jesus” and not lay your life down for Him as true love does.
The person who refuses to obey the Bible does not love Jesus, even if he goes to a Spirit-filled church and has Spirit-filled friends. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” John said, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments,” and “He who says ‘I know Him’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
Therefore, if you are rude and domineering toward your spouse, your children, your co-workers and other people in your life, you do not really love Jesus. If you always want your own way, you do not really love Jesus. If you’re too busy doing your own thing to have time to fellowship with Jesus, you do not really love Jesus. If this describes you, there is a cure. It’s called repentance. You can repent of not loving Jesus and ask for His help to live for Him. You can bet He’ll answer that prayer!
Where Rosie grew up in Newfoundland, it was nothing to be in church for hours on Sunday – morning and night. The “old-timers” in this country would get ready for church on Saturday night! They would make sure they weren’t up to ridiculous hours so that they would be alert to hear the Word of God on Sunday. Today we tend to emphasize, “Make me feel good today – and do it fast or I’ll start staring at my watch!” as opposed to “Feed me the Word of God!” The Word of God will NOT always make you feel good in the short term. You might squirm under conviction! The Word is profitable for correction! In the end, of course, you will be far better off if you let your Father discipline you. In fact, if you DON’T let your Father discipline you, you’re a bastard! Of course, any preacher who preaches the entire Word of God will be labeled as “rough” by many of today’s churchgoers, who don’t read their Bibles enough to know that the Bible itself is pretty rough sometimes! Have you read the book of James lately? It’s not very “user-friendly”. There was an actual case where someone at a denominational conference mentioned that another person had the gall to say thus-and-such – and then quoted some verses from James. The ecclesiastical bunch actually said that anyone who would make such statements should be banned from the church!
It is a sad fact that many people love church but don’t love Jesus. They love Christmas but don’t love Christ! They love religion but don’t love the Author of Life. People are people in every age. The Pharisees loved their ceremonies and their religion but they did not love Jesus!
Do you really love Jesus? Is He first in your heart, or just an accessory to an overbusy lifestyle whom you fit in when it’s convenient for you?