“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart… Matt 22:36-37 NIV
– One of the themes that undergird a Kingly lifestyle is a willingness to pursue your heart’s desire. Most of us have been raised in a system that emphasized obedience without even suggesting that our heart’s desire could line up with the will of God. Obedience can be the school master that leads us to Christ as part of our maturing process. You just have to graduate to relationship someday.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith Gal 3:24 KJV
I used to have it in my head that my willingness to obey God and override my own desires was the essence of spiritual maturity and love for God. I even had a verse to prove my obedience demonstrated love for God.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me… John 14:21 NIV
I prided myself in shutting down the desires of my own heart and obeying God. Now, I’m pretty hard-headed so it took the Lord some time to get me straightened out. Let me share two more examples.
#1 – I received a newsletter this morning noting that people get more excited at football games than they do at church… Why aren’t people more excited about church? Often obedience is an obligation we feel pleases God; something we don’t really enjoy. Worse yet, we have no expectation that we can or should enjoy our relationship with God or the things we’re called to do. Sadly, obedience often defines the way we relate to God. (I’m not blanketing all churches with this analogy; many people love their churches and go because they want to).
#2 – One congregation in our area was getting large and somewhat impersonal although it was growing and people loved the pastor. They decided to emphasize home groups and made them a requirement for membership. Now the church is still growing and the members attend home groups. However, when they took a recent poll about whether the people wanted home groups, 90% said they would prefer not to go. Instead they just wanted the Sunday service. Here’s my point – On the surface everyone is going to home groups and the church is growing; but the foundation is based on a steady diet of obedience to the rule; “membership requires attendance.” Think there might be a turnover tendency?
Serving Lovers, not Loving Servants
– Here’s the essence of spiritual maturity. Kings are serving lovers, not loving servants. Nobody can make themselves stay on the treadmill of obedience forever. If you don’t arrive at something that touches your heart’s desire, you’ll eventually quit. Here’s the exciting truth. God himself really is the fulfillment of our deepest heart’s desire. Most of us still strain that statement through our servant theology to love God out of obedience – after all it’s the first commandment! Exploring the depths of Jesus is the “life” best described as finding joy and pleasures forevermore. Listen to David.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps 16:11 NKJV
God, A Hard Man?
– David went on to describe his relationship with God as drinking from “your river of delights.” (Ps 36:7-9) The servant / poverty mentality tends to paint God as a hard task master who exacts a fear-induced compliance with his written code. Listen to the theology of the servant that buried his talent
24 “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ Matt 25:24-25 NIV
God “Relates” through our Hearts
– It’s one thing to bury your talent. Many do. What’s more tragic is why people choose to bury their initiative; it’s because they believe God is a hard man that takes instead of gives. The truth is that God delights in relationship, not just obedience. And, he “relates” to us through the desires of our heart not through a list of rules. He delights in blessing His children and the natural result is that we delight in blessing others. It’s such a good thing, who could help but want to share it and get excited about it?
Here’s what the servant missed. God wants to delight your heart. He really is that “personal,” that “fatherly,” and that “generous.” His goal is to raise up an army of believers that are not afraid to ask… not afraid to multiply…not afraid to experience the joy of answered prayer.
23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:23-24 NKJV
These are the last words of David… Will he not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire? NIV 2 Sam 23:1-5
Living words that continually proceed – God is graduating servants to lovers in this hour. Don’t despise your tour of “duty” through the obedience phase. That’s how we learn to get to the real thing. Those static rules never did bring life to anyone. It’s “living words” that bring life to our hearts.
3 He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from GOD’s mouth. 4 Your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t blister those forty years. 5 You learned deep in your heart that GOD disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child. Deut 8:3-5 Message
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matt 4:4 NIV
38 He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us. Acts 7:38 NIV
Want to Fall in Love?
– Approach God as someone who loves you and wants to talk to you. He’s not a hard man with a list of rules. The Holy Spirit will thrill your heart with living words and it will become an exciting way of “life”… an adventure that starts with love and carries you on to ministry, prosperity, and a cup that runs over enough to contribute your part to blessing the nations.
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.