Friday, September 4, 2015

Love vs Sentimentality

I have been reading the book of Jeremiah in my personal devotional life, and I came across a verse that struck me.  I believe it perfectly encapsulates our culture at this time; sadly, even the culture of God's church.  The verse comes from Jeremiah 7:8-10:

"Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.  Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!'- only to go on doing all these abominations?"

A little context here:  Baal was a false god at the time of Israel.  To worship Baal was to violate the 1st commandment which succinctly states, "you shall have no other gods before Me..."  In this text God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah and asking a simple question, "do you suppose that you can commit all these sins, worship false idols, and then hop on in to the Temple - the place that is called by My name - and expect me to deliver you while you change nothing?  Surely you jest..."

What the people were doing at the time of Jeremiah was paying lip service to the God that delivered them from Egyptian slavery, carved out the Promised Land, and consistently forgave their sins.  They were honoring Him with their lips but by their deeds and actions they were following their own desires and the idols of the day.

However, I am sure that if you asked a typical member of Judah during that time, "do you love Yahweh, the God of our fathers?"  they would answer enthusiastically, "why yes I do!"  It is this that I want to address in my blog today.

In order to do this, I want to ask the ladies a question.  If you had a husband that consistently cheated on you, slept with other women, did not spend time with you, neglected the children, but said the words, "I love you" would you believe them?  I hope not.  Yet, sadly, I have sat and prayed with many a woman that has a boyfriend/husband just like this.  They say, "I love you" but their deeds showcase they do not.

And when you speak to these men many of them actually believe they do, "love" their wives/girlfriends.  How can that be you say?  Because they have positive feelings for their wife or girlfriend.  I have actually had a conversation with a man that really believes that he, "loves" two women.  He has pledged himself to both in his mind.  To leave one would hurt them - and love would never hurt another!  [enter sarcasm and the roll of my eyes]

The problem of our culture and our church in America is we have confused real love with sentimentality.  Sentiment is nothing more than tender emotion. Positive sentiment often accompanies love, but it certainly does not encapsulate it.  Sadly, though, in our society we think that if we have strong feelings for someone than that means, "we love them."  This is utter and pure nonsense.  It was Jesus that said, "if you love Me, you will obey My commandments" [John 15] Furthermore, when you look at how the Apostle Paul defined love in 1st Corinthians 13 not one sentiment is mentioned.  It is filled with doing words.

Love is a verb.  It is action.  And real love demands the giving up of self for the other.  Again our Savior said it, "greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for their friends."[John 15]  To love another is to uplift their desires, wants, needs, above your own.  This goes for the Lord as well.  To love God predisposes obedience.

Now, I know many of my Lutheran brothers and sisters are shaking now thinking that perhaps I am veering into a theology whereby what I do somehow merits something with God.  I assure you that I am not.  I am saying simply this - we are saved solely and completely by God's grace, with no merit on our part, and when I do trust in Christ I will seek to live my life for Him out of pure love for Him. I desire to merit nothing - I only desire Him.

Yet, in our culture we can say, "I love Jesus" and yet shirk his commands on sexual purity.  We can say, "I love Jesus" and idly stand by and fund the murdering of our children through abortion.  We can say, "I love God" and yet shirk what He says about worshiping other gods.  It is shocking how many Christians - and even Christian pastors - believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  How can this be?  Can you have the Father without the Son?  Listen to the clear words of Scripture from 1st John 2:22-23, "Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also."  Muslims do not believe Jesus is the Son of God.  Muslims do not believe Jesus died on a cross.  Muslims do not believe Jesus rose from the dead.  Muslims do not believe Jesus is God in the flesh.  Yet, many Christians say we worship the same can this be?  The same can be said for the Jew - do they not deny the very Messiah that came to save them?  What is the point of Paul in Athens telling them that Zeus is no god, that Athenia is no god, etc...if all gods are gods simply because we, "feel" for them and, "Love them" then heck...we do not need Christ at all!

Let us at least be honest.  The New Testament declares very clearly what is sinful and what is righteous.  Yet, so many of us simply say, "I love God" with no thought to amending our lives to conform to His likeness.  We want to, "love God" and yet hold the same opinions as the world.  This cannot be so.  It is not real love.  It is simply sentiment.  And sentiment will not save.

Now I know what you are asking - um...what has gotten into Chris?  Why so rough?  Because here is the real truth - forgiveness does not come until one returns to God in repentance and faith; and why would anyone repent if they honestly do not think anything is wrong.

Here is the truth about me - I have failed to love God with all my heart.  I have failed to love my neighbor as myself.  I have failed to keep the commandments of God.  Lord, I am sorry.  I repent.  Forgive me.  And let me tell you this - I am sure that the blood of Jesus washes me clean.  But make no mistake - I do not wink at sin.  I do not say, " is no big deal..."  It is such a big deal Jesus died to pay for it.  Look at what the Lord says in the above Jeremiah Scriptures - it is not even their abominations that He condemns them for - but for after coming to the Temple simply planning to continue in sin.  It is mere lip service.

So please hear me - come to Jesus with your sin.  Yes, you have sinned.  So have I.  We have sinned grievously.  But come to Him with no excuses.  Simply lay that sin at the foot of Christ and seek His forgiveness - and He WILL forgive you.  And then you will leave changed.

The forgiveness and grace of God is transforming.  Imagine a God who will forgive and love you in spite of what you have done?  That is the God of the Bible.  He only demands we admit what we have done and left undone.  What point is there for a Savior if we do not need saving?

So come to Him.  Bring your abortions.  Bring your sexual sin.  Bring your adultery.  Bring your pornography.  Bring your homosexuality.  Bring your hatred of others.  Bring your racial hatred.  Bring your abandonment of the poor.  Bring your favoritism.  Bring your factious, angry, and bitter nature.  I will bring mine.  Let us together make no excuses.  And then receive forgiveness from God.
Yes, come as you are; but do not leave as you were.

In Christ,

Chris Ogne

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