Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mechanical or Personal?

If there is one thing I have learned these past two years, it is how little I knew about having a real, personal, intimate walk with God.  Now, I am sure there are some that raise an eyebrow at that statement, but what I have learned is that God loves us so much and His entire purpose in creating us was to have a fellowship with us.  Please don't get me wrong, I have read my Bible consistently since I was a teen ager.  I have heard the Lord speak to me, guide me, and rebuke me.  I know the Spirit of God convicted me to be saved, told me I was to preach God's Word, led me to the college I attended, and revealed to me who I was to marry.  I have been led of the Lord as to what to preach from week to week, who to speak to in witnessing, and so much more.  God wasn't (and will never) miss a beat.  The issue, I learned, was not with God, but with me.  I was a "doer."  I still am.  I every day write out a list of things I want to "do" today.  I will stay up all night many times if need be to finish my "do" list.  I have gotten aggravated when life prevents me from finishing my "do" list.
Now, I have never written down on a "do" list to read my Bible, but the spirit of a "do" list many times was in my Bible reading.  What a shame.  I am now convinced, that I am not alone.  I believe our Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches are filled with "Doers."  I believe we are growing cold because of doer mentality.  Our pastors are burning out, our people are dropping out, and our ministries are fading out because of this doer mentality.
I heard a preacher a few months ago and was further convinced of our error as he shouted in a braggadocios manner "You got to win em, wet em, and work em to the bone!"
No, not really preacher man.  Yet, this is the mentality of many churches today.  Pastors see themselves as ministry administrators and the church as their employees to do God's work.  No, not really preacher man.
I am of the opinion now that this is what the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2 was struggling with.  Consider this:
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
The Lord knew they were workers.  The church at Ephesus labored for the Lord.  They took a strong stand against sin and had high standards.  They could discern between a false preacher and a real preacher.  They were a strong, Independent church.  YET.....
Nevertheless I have [somewhat] against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
I have heard sermons on this verse, as you have, that they lost their love for souls!  Well, yes, but that is not what this verse is referring to, in my opinion.   They had left their first love. That first love....stop and think about it.  To what is John, through the Holy Spirit, referring to?
Now if anyone knew what this love was all about, it would be John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.  John spoke much of love.  Just in his epistle of 1 John, the word love is mentioned 33 times.

1 John 4:8 "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
 We didn't know what love was, until we learned who God is.  We learned through the Scriptures the amazing love God has for us in sending His Son to die for us.  We learned John 3:16, Rom. 5:8, and were convicted of our sin and saved.
1 John 4:9 "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."
After being saved and realizing the love of God, we learned of that new and great commandment:
1 John 4:11 "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."
What a difference God's love made in our lives.  We had real love in our hearts and wanted to share it with others.  We were in love with the God who created love.  We realized His love, it changed our lives, and we desired to share that love with others.   Every believer shares this testimony. 

So, what happens?  We cease living our lives based upon the love of God, and begin living our lives based upon works.  The Devil has always attempted to turn eyes away from God's love and grace to works and self duty.  Thousands live in deception today, lost, counting on their works to save them.  Thousands of believers live in deception today, miserable and beaten down counting on their works to give them that joy and peace God has promised.  When that joy and peace are no longer there like it was when they first got saved, that's when the devil attacks those "whom he may devour."

His lies begin, "God doesn't love you."  "You really didn't get saved."  "All the church wants is your _________."  "You must be missing it all, because you are not like those other people."  "God has distanced himself from you."

The "Doer" pastor assists in the destruction of these saints in preaching "If you've lost your joy in serving Jesus, something is wrong with you."  "If you don't have joy and peace, you don't know God." "If you don't have two ministries, you don't love souls."

You get the point...and you see it happening.  Those people in those shoes either "get saved" three or four times trying to replenish that joy, get burnt out and bitter and drop out of church, or neglect their home and in anger push their family through a church life.  It's sad.

Problem is not that we never had God's love, or that we lost God's love, but as the Scriptures read, "we left God's love."  We went from a real, personal, intimate relationship to a mechanical, impersonal, duty driven relationship.  Yes...we then lose our love for souls.  As a preacher friend of mine, Dr. Terry Coomer, has written,
 "I will  never be motivated to care about another person and share the love of Christ with them when I don't care about God's love."
Stop Doing, and start living in the love of God.  We will look at how this is possible in the next posts.  For now, meditate and ask yourself if you are living and serving based upon and motivated by God's love or duty?

1 John 4:19  We love him, because He first loved us. 

2 comments:

Shawn Braley said...

This is so true and something I'm still growing in. This is the difference that many people make with religious action and relationship that leads to religious action done out of love. When teaching on this topic recently with the Young Adults at my church I used this analogy.

My wife and I love one another deeply. Because of that love, we often serve each other just out of the overflow of our hearts. This makes our acts of service beautiful and a wonderful reflection of what marriage is. But if Tasha were to make me a to-do list every morning, and we were never to speak, but I accomplished the to do list every day. Sometimes even going above and beyond what she has asked of me. Yet we still have no relationship. I am working out of obligation rather than love. In that mentality, the obligation mentality, I will wear myself out and be no better for it. When I work out of love, I am consistently refreshed, even in the midst of serving.

This distinction is so very important because it shows us that even actions can me misleading. Someone can be a wonderful preacher and servant, leading many, many souls to the Lord and still spend no time with God. That, to me, is scary. I cannot equate my moral/religious actions with an intimate relationship with Jesus. Intimacy does lead to action, but if we start with action it won't ever just lead us to intimacy.

Thanks for sharing this. I really got a lot out of it!

Travis Burke said...

Great analogy Bro. Shawn. You are right it is scary. Even our "time with God" can become ritualistic. I have found that the more we look for and thank God for His amazing love toward us in our day to day lives, the more closer we feel to Him. (BTW, the same goes towards our spouse as well). Love ya Shawn and appreciate you.