Two weeks into January… how ya doing?
The new year always begins with a wide-eyed hope and a giddy optimism as we imagine the many opportunities ahead of us. The ills of the previous year seem to fall away and only the shiny potential of a blank slate remains. Our future is so bright, we have to wear shades.
Perhaps one of your “new year’s resolutions” was to draw near to God or “get back into church.” Wishing to fill a void you sense was missing in 2021, you are determined to nurture your faith in the upcoming year. Please, allow me to celebrate your decision and praise God for the desire you have to know Him more throughout this upcoming year! I am excited for you and hope you will indulge me as I offer you some encouragement.
A healthy relationship with the Lord is cultivated as we nurture three loves.
The first love we must pursue is a love for His Word. This love is foundational and formational to the other two loves we will want to cultivate. The true child of God longs for the pure milk of God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2). God’s Word is our source of nourishment and knowledge. We are told that God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and that is sufficient to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When Jesus prays for us in John 17, He prays that we would be sanctified (made holy like Him, directed in His ways, and instructed in godliness) by the truth. He then declares, “Your Word is truth.” (John 17:17). Where the Bible speaks, God speaks, for it is breathed out by His very Spirit and reflects His very nature (2 Tim 3:16 & 2 Peter 1:21). The only way to know Jesus is to know God’s Word. To love God is to love His Word.
The next love we must pursue is the love of His people. John, the beloved apostle, declared that if we cannot love our brother who we can see then we do not love our God who we cannot see. (1 John 4:20) Much of the New Testament is directed toward instructing God’s people in how we are to abide together in love and unity – forgiving one another, praying for one another, deferring our preferences for one another, united together in love. (Rom 12:10, Gal 5:13, Eph 4:1-3, 6:18, Col. 3:13, James 5:16)
If we are to love God, we must cultivate a love for His people. This is how love for God is made visible. Are the bonds we have in Christ greater than our musical tastes, worship preferences, cultural background, and political ideologies? If our choice of church (or the commitment to our church) is determined by anything other than the love we have for God and His people, then our relationship with our Heavenly Father will be compromised and distant. But, if we can learn to sacrifice our pride and preferences in love for His people and His kingdom, then we will grow in the likeness of our Savior, who humbled Himself in obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8)
The final love we want to develop, in addition to a love for His Word and a love for His people, is a love for His mission. Is our heart’s desire to know Him and to make Him known? Because the more we know Him, the more we will want others to taste and see that our Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8) Knowing God enlivens passions for His glory and promotes energies for worship. What greater expression of worship is there than to declare His excellencies and wonders and perfections? What greater accomplishment could we achieve than to have others praise and honor Jesus because of something we said or did?
You and I will find no greater joy, we will experience no greater fulfillment than to know we are serving God’s purposes and promoting His glory. (John 4:34)
While much more can be said on these three loves, I hope what has been said will spur you along in pursuit of the love of God – a love reflected by a love for His Word, a love for His people, and a love for His mission. If there is anything else I do to help you along this journey, please reach out by leaving a comment or sending an email.
God bless & Happy New Year.