In the year 2014 I found my spirit on the verge of death. It had lost its way wondering through fields of obligation and duty. Not longer did it desire company only that it be left still and unmoved. Some journeys start there stuck in the bog like Pilgrim and his progress. Twenty plus years I have been a Christian. A believer in the most high the Great IAM. Yet with such lofty knowledge I had found my self sick of all of it.
The people, the demands, the volunteerism, the lights, sound, flash, and pulpits, the only thing I still enjoyed was lofty insights into the nature of God and being alone. Obligation and duty had poisoned me and there was no love in me. Everyone around me suffered from this even though I sought to keep it in check. I thank God for his protection on them.
In my view everyone was an inconvenience. I had set in my heart that I either would feel and know a Christian experience and relationship with God that drove me or I would simply allow my faith to cool. I desperately wanted to feel that the choices I had made, I made them out of an exuberance for the gospel, for the love of Christ and for the love of those around me. Yet no amount of effort on my part seemed to bring this about in my life.
The Greeks have the philosophy, of truth through reason, while the Hebrews have the philosophy of truth through obedience. Both of them really fall short and the truth lies somewhere in between, but higher. I desperately wanted to see the coals of my faith warm and to know that overwhelming joy of knowing Christ again. I wanted to know the drive that pushes a Christian to love till his or her body collapses. Then I wanted to know the drive that lifts them off the floor for more.
The truth is I had been through those motions, but not for works, only for obedience’s sake. I knew that God was and is real, I could never deny that. However, I served because I knew that is what he wanted, because I knew that was right. Yet my heart hated the action and my love grew sick allowing begrudging maryterism to take its place.
So I confessed. OH GOD! my love is sick and I can not do this. So into the spiritual desert I went. I laid down in the heat of that place and cried out to God. Either you move me from here or death will surly overtake me. I must have more of you. I must have a pure motivation. I can not continue to drink the poison of obligation. I want to be clear, my demand to the great IAM was not a selfish bold one. It is hard to make prideful demands through sobs and retching tears. I was desperate. I needed to have a change inside of my self an adjustment to my perspective or I would surly choose a life of ease and spiritual sleep.
Close to the end of that time I wrote this “Many Years” though at the time I did not know I was about to be lead out of the dessert to a banquet. I read a sermon by Spurgeon about love
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 19th, 1858, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
At the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
I will make no excuses this sermon is long but please read it at some point you will be thankful you did. However, I will recap here for you a very simple outline. I want to stress just how simple this outline is because there is a lot in the aforementioned sermon.
- The key passage is: “We love him, because he first loved us.”—1 John 4:19.
- Love comes from God. Why do we love? Because he first loved us.
- Love must be nourished on God it must be fed on God’s love.
- If your love is sick you should feed it on that which it first fed. The moment of our saviors greatest act of love, The Cross.
- You must walk out your love to have it be healthy.
bullet four is the one that hit home. So I left my dessert and moved to the foot of the cross. There I stayed for at least 2 weeks. Every morning I would rise and read over and over again the Crucifixion and Resurrection and The Great Commission. I wanted it to be real to me. I wanted to be there to look up into the eyes of a loving savior so perfect and undeserving of his fate. I wanted to hear the loud voice he had cried out with before he committed his spirit. I wanted to feel the earth tremble with his passing and to see and feel the blood flow down the cross from his side. The cry of his voice is the same voice that teaches us to hear God.
There I stayed till my love for the savior of my soul found a measure of health. There I found my heart began to beat again. There my love for God grew and I saw a measure of heat begin to come off of the almost cold coals. So I rose from my place and traveled over the dunes
Just over the dune there. He is there. Yes, I still do not remember but I am sure he can tell me. Judging by the light just over the dune he must have new fire. Many years have taken this fires light but it’s ashes, they can be rekindled. – Many Years
I began to walk in a rekindled love but I soon found that I was right back where I was before. I had not actually changed only achieved a temporary reprieve from a soul sickness that sought to take me in a direction that no one should go. I was deeply troubled, I had spent time at the cross, I understood God loved me first, I even knew of love in that it had been in me. Yet I was again empty, frustrated and unchanged.
love is a lot of things:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
It is a terrible motivator. Love is awesome especially when it is poured out both the giving and receiving of love is noble and right. However, love is an expulsion it goes out of the giver and is only replenished by a source. It does not replenish itself. In fact if someone constantly gives love and never replenishes it. I can guarantee that they will end up exactly where I was. Everyone was an inconvenience, everything is hard and only obligation. Also here is an added wrinkle, human love does not sustain nor satisfy. Perhaps you have a loving spouse and you both lavish one another with love. Well its not enough, the effort is friction and eventually you will find yourself loveless asking when did we get this way. The same holds true for any act of love or loving relationship. We humans can not produce true sustaining love alone. We are broke that way. The other problem I had was that if I did not love my efforts were worthless and I have been without love in my heart for months.
Upon realizing this I went into prayer. God what is it that I am supposed to be motivated by if not love. Then a phrase came to mind
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. – John Piper.
I had watched a video for the website desiringgod.org. The video stated that telling that, our happiness is not in conflict with God’s glory. Infact God is the most wonderful treasure we can ever obtain and to enjoy him is to enjoy the best reality, the universe and eternity has to offer. The greatest of pleasures.
After some more searching I found the sermon where Dr. Piper lays out this very succinctly and calls it “Christian Hedonism.” I am not sure I like the name but he does preface by saying it is just a catchy controversial name that he has placed on a particular view of scripture.
The End of The Matter
I must be careful because I feel that some would hear what I have to say at this point with the language I am going to choose to use, and think I have some how chosen instead to justify sin and pleasure over any other virtue. What I am about to write, after the whole back story, is the culmination of a spiritual journey that took me the Pilgrims Bog.
When you have been a Christian for a time and have served as faithfully as you can;
When you have read and studied and strove for understanding;
When you have chosen to say yes more than you have said no;
When you have tried desperately to keep the second greatest commandment;
When disbelief is not an option:
When believing makes you want to not believe, because once there was a fire and you know his voice and are his child;
Love is not enough
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]
God is the great sustainer, IAM, The most wonderful treasure reality, the universe, and eternity has to offer. He offers himself. He created this world so that he might be worshiped in spirit and in truth. His glory is the outward expression of his reality, our faith is the lovers gaze on the visage of our affection. Our hope is in him this treasure. Our love is the outward flow of our faith. Our praise is the consummation of our joy. The cross is the moment where he showed himself most glorious the moment of our greatest help. He bids us come and enjoy him. This changes everything for me. Every self denial, every action, every persecution, every obedient action, every confessed sin, loved individual, and submission to the ultimate authority is for his glory. When he is most glorified in me I am most satisfied in him when he is most glorified in me. Looking into the face of the great one and lavishing him with my praise, viewing everything in the light of glorifying God and to have more of him the greatest treasure does indeed make love swell in my heart. Because God is the source, we love because he first loved us.
Please take the time to read and listen to the sermon on this because it is in the Bible, But, I think in western culture we have tried to follow the second greatest commandment and have forgotten the first.
I decided to embed the video for your convenience as well as link the sermon you should read.