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Archive for August 25th, 2012

Loving Christ for His Sake

August 25th, 2012

Peter, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?

John 21:15

Jesus directed the right question at Peter, and He does the same to us. Is our love for Christ at the center of who we are, what we value, and how we act? If it is anywhere else, on the side or at the back of our minds, or even near the center but not exactly at the center, then we are out of balance. “Without a center there can be no circumference,” (and I do not know who said this amazing insight first, but it was not I) meaning that our prime affection and focus and purpose will determine everything else about us. It all radiates out from what we worship in our hearts. Thank God for the privilege of knowing and worshiping Him!

The higher Christian life is the life promised in the Bible and one lived in faith in God. Some teachings on this life have misrepresented the promises and the aims of Scripture and have resulted in people misperceiving what this life is all about. Joy, fulfillment, confidence, peace, all of these are parts of the higher life, but none of them are its aim. They are by-products. Its chief product or result is a life lived for the glory of God, a life in which the secret and shameful ways of the old self have been renounced and the individual’s life is now being lived for the sake of Christ. We embrace our forgiveness and acceptance just as we renounce sin.

If we want this life just for the peace that it brings, or the joy, etc, we are very likely to misperceive the entire matter and think only of ourselves. This principle can be seen in other areas of life as well – the principle that selfishness can ruin an otherwise very good thing – marriage, for example. If we enter into marriage desiring to form a bond and start a family with our spouse, if we truly love this person and seek to honor them and support them, we will hopefully find some reciprocation, and not only from the person but from our own emotions. To give your self for a high cause brings some inner peace. But there is the danger, for if this inner feeling becomes the affection of our hearts and not the person we are “in love” with, if we are merely “in love with love” or “in love with peace” then the relationship will become all twisted and wrong.

With regard to Christ, if we are “in love with His peace” then our inner peace will become more important to us than Him and His purposes, and slowly, or not so slowly, disappear. We will wonder what happened to our hearts and long to return to those days that were so exciting. But, unfortunately, the way has been blocked because of the deception in our minds. We have again replaced the purpose of God for our life with our own private ambitions, just as Adam and Eve had done.

It is not wrong for us to recognize the benefits that come into our lives when we are faithful and obedient; the soul-satisfaction and inner peace and joy should serve to help motivate us toward surrender and obedience. But the focus of our affection must be Christ Himself, and not our own fulfillment. We are to privately renounce secret and shameful ways, not merely agree in public that they are bad things. We must let these things go in our hearts, releasing our grip on them and their grip on us. We are new creations in Him, reconciled to God through Christ, and we are to live with pleasing Him being the object of our life. We must then take hold of Him and let Him take hold of us.

And I believe that every Christian wants to do this, at least in some area of his heart, for the Spirit will surely put this desire within us if He indwells us. There may be deception in part but it can never be in whole for the child of God, and if you hear His voice in the slightest way today, then we have the opportunity to turn from the self-life to the Christ-life. We as a race are made so that we are only truly fulfilled when we give our hearts and our heads away to the One who made us, redeemed us, and loves us.

Evening Devotionals