You know, I do things now I’d never have done just because of love. I hate emptying the dish washer and reloading it. I hate shoveling the driveway, I d rather just ram through it with my car. I don’t dig working on a garden when I don’t like vegetables much. I’m not a big fan of spontaneous gift giving. But you know what I love my gal. I do stuff just because I’m in love with her and she loves me back intensely. I must reciprocate. We do crazy things for love.
Why should we live for God, make choices in alignment with the scriptures, pursue inner purity, outer morality and sacrificial service to others? I think it should be anchored in LOVE. I remember that slogan “fear God” that was popular a few years ago and made its way onto t-shirts, bumper stickers and billboards. I’m not a big fan of that kind of motivation. That “wake up church, God is not happy with you, a spanking is coming your way” language seems to scratch that itch we have for hard speech, but I’m not sure it does God’s character justice. It is true that God is dangerous and not the kind of deity you mess with, you ignore and play hypocrite with… all very true but not inherently a good motivator. We are motivated by love. We do crazy things for love. We go-to-town to change things because of fierce love. I believe this is part of our design, our “image of God”. God put that powerful love switch in our circuit board. Satan surely takes advantage of that switch and diverts us to love lesser gods more and believe we really need their love in return to survive. But it’s always a love thing. We need to do less teaching on getting right with God out of sheer obedience and more teaching about how ravenous, bold, perfect, sacrificial and selfless God’s love is for us through Jesus. This is no wimpy doctrine. It’s not about wonderfully romantic thoughts God has about us all day long. It’s about a God who defies sanity and logic. Take a look at the book of Hosea, it wrecks my wiring every time I read it. How can God love us like that? How can He pursue me when I’m bowing down to lesser things? How can He love me so consistently when my inner motives are twisted up in selfishness and envy? Why does He want me when I like me more than I like Him? Well the supernatural answers is... that’s who God is. The more I marinate in and remember God’s Holy Love, I am moved to love him back emotionally but also actively. In Luke 7 we see human love expressed to God in the story of Jesus' feet being anointed with tears and perfume by a humble woman. It’s not some cheap romance or soap opera love. This kind of love has some grit and follow-through. It took me some time several years ago to shake off using my desire to not disappoint God as my fuel for obedience and replacing it with a Calvary-soaked love instead. That’s why I think the church should be known as place filled with lovers.
*"Church is for Lovers" is one of the chapters in my forthcoming book "Do or Die: Surviving the Faith."