I have had a few things laying heavily on my heart lately. Through conversation with some folks, I learned that Jeremy and I are considered religious fanatics. I really had no idea we were perceived that way and honestly, it made me chuckle a little. We read our Bibles daily and worship with our children every morning. Apparently, this is not typical for people who believe that Jesus died for them. I just find this very strange. I don’t want to sound like I know it all because, believe me, I don’t. Anything that one might see in me that is good, only comes from Jesus, not anything in me. I find it strange that we are considered fanatical when we aren’t even close to the devotion the apostles showed. The followers in the Bible that Catholics revere as saints were guys like John the Baptist. He ran around dressed in camel hair and ate locusts in the wilderness and probably looked more like this:
As I have been thinking about these things, my mind wandered to Paul (the writer of most of the New Testament). I was considering the torture he endured to further the Gospel of Christ. Looking at it from an outsiders perspective, he was nuts! However, in most Christian denominations he is respected as having the utmost authority on the character of Christ! If scripture does say that we are to be like Jesus (John 13:13-17) and emulate other followers from His Word (1 Corinthians 11:1) then why are we calling others fanatics for doing just that? Either folks don’t believe the Bible and I would question what they really believe or folks just aren’t willing to do what God actually calls us to do.
I imagine most people who are reading this have someone in their life that they love more than anyone else (children, spouse, friend). Think about what lengths you would go to in order to protect their life. For example, what would I personally do to protect my daughter Emilia? In my opinion, protection is an act of love. I would give up my life, without a thought, to protect her. How about this? What would I be willing to do for her to know how much I love her? I sing to her, I jump up and down with her, I make silly voices when I read her books, I allow her to watch me go to the bathroom so she will feel more comfortable using the “potty”, I stay up all night when I haven’t slept in days to hold her when she has had a bad dream. You get the point. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous I would look or how painful it might be because I love her so much. I encourage you to get a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the name of that special person and all of the crazy stuff you would do for them. Now, grab a new piece of paper and write the name of God there. Whichever name means the most to you: Jesus, Adonai, Abba, God, Yahweh. Then write down the things you have done to show Him your love and protect the relationship you have with Him. This is just between you and Him. Alright, compare your lists. Is there a big difference in the intensity of how you show love to God and to people?
The Bible says (I am sure you have heard this before) that we need “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). I guess that is pretty vague for some folks. I mean how could we possibly love God like that when we are just human? Some think this is going to church every few weeks and thanking God for their blessings everyday. Others think it is persecuting people in God’s name. They are both wrong. Going to church is a great start but, Jesus was very clear about what He wants from His followers. Matthew 10:37 says “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” I don’t know about you but I adore my children. This is a tall order. But, I am called to love God more than my husband and my children. I am called to love Him more than my parents too. What does it mean to love Him more? Love is measured in our actions toward the object of our affection not just how we feel toward them. Another example, my husband had to (and still does) learn who I was for his love for me to grow. He talks to me, spends time with me, asks me questions, looks at me, makes me egg sandwiches, and is willing do whatever it takes no matter how he looks to everyone else. What is required from God is that Jeremy would blow all of that out of the water when it comes to loving Him. I have to outdo anything I am willing to do for my kids to love God. Every morning I sit at the table for breakfast with my kids. Our oldest daughter is three years old and so she is just now beginning to tell stories. Emilia will tell me some silly made up story that makes no sense but, if I listen closely, I will hear what she is thinking about. I will hear her worries and joys. This is why I wake up before everyone and sit at that same table with Jesus. I know if I open the Bible and just listen closely, I will hear the heart of God. I will know the Almighty, Creator of everything. As I know Him, my love for Him deepens. Then I worship and praise Him with song for who He is. I am sure I look strange on Sunday mornings at church – standing there in yoga pants (that’s all that fits) with an infant strapped to the front of me and my shoes kicked off. My hands are raised as high as I can raise them; I am singing with the full capacity of every breath; I begin to jump and have to stop only because I don’t want to give my son worship whiplash. I used to think, maybe that isn’t for everyone. It is! What do you think we will be doing in heaven?! Sitting around and knitting? No! We will be praising our God! It is time for Christians to make a decision and stop sitting on the fence. Either you want to know Him or you don’t. Either you love Him or you don’t. Either you believe in Jesus or you don’t.
I realize this is a relatively tough post and I apologize sincerely from my heart if you are hurt. I just know that someone out there needs the encouragement to just start pursuing the Everlasting God. He is so worthy of it. I am excited for the day that I won’t have an infant attached to me on Sunday morning, only because I can’t wait to just start jumping! I jump around and play with my kids all day and they haven’t done anything for me. But, Jesus. But, Jesus. But Jesus died so I can have a relationship with God. I get to go to heaven! So yeah, one day, you will see me jumping!