Life changed after 9/11.
The US of A became vulnerable, perhaps for the first time in our history. We felt invaded as if we had been molested. Post Iraq we became victims of the system that many of us began to dread and despise – like our lives were being taken away from us. And such is the case. We are, like it or not, fast becoming a socialist nation, and our government may never return to the roots we once knew. I have to agree with President Obama, who declared, “America is no longer a Christian nation.” Like it or not, he told the truth. America, as a country, no longer values our God as the Supreme Lord and Judge. And it has and will continue to cost us dearly as a result.
Oh, yes, our churches are full of people, and there is a remnant of Christians who are still hungry for more, but as a whole, we’re now a nation of “Churchianity.” There is little hungering and thirsting “for righteousness sake.” People often attend church to get a feel good message and be entertained, but real change is lacking in many lives.
Many seriously committed Christians have confided to me that their prayers have hit a wall at times, no matter how many dreams, visions or prophecies they’ve received. The heavens, in some cases, have indeed become “brass,” and direction for some has been extremely difficult. Some have lost loved ones, and others have lost jobs, or they’ve experienced lingering sicknesses or tragedies that seemed inexplicable. All this has led to a great deal of anxiety and stress, causing us to wonder what God is doing or what He’s up to.
Personally, I have sought the Lord repeatedly for answers, but I have often felt the same “wall.” However, this week, as I was seeking Him, I sensed God saying that His people should stop seeking Him just for answers and start seeking Him for Himself in a deeper way than ever before. I think if we’re truthful, we can all be guilty of seeking God’s Hand but not His face. That’s like going to your earthy father and saying, “Hey, dad, I hope you’re feeling ok. I don’t have time to spend time with you, but please give me what I want right now.”
This is why I decided to write this and call it, “Realigning the Focus of Love.” I think the Father is out of focus for many of us because we have in our own way so bought into the “success” or “bless me” messages that we’ve forgotten that knowing and loving God Himself and serving Him is our first priority. Doesn’t God want to bless us? Of course, but I can assure you that He’s more concerned with our intimacy with Him.
I can assure you, also, that for most people in the church at large today that learning, receiving and living the agape message of God’s unconditional love for us – AND RETURNING IT TO HIM – is foremost on His agenda. Bob Mumford has addressed this in his DVD course and book, “The Agape Road.” For those who are not familiar with this, Bob said there are three roads people may take: 1) the worldly road 2) the religious road or 3) the agape road.
The worldly road is obvious. People choose a godless road, preferring the spirit of this world, with their hearts set on pleasure and selfish gratification. They can be moral and nice, but they are lost. The religious road can be taken by nonbelievers and believers alike. Religious unbelievers may feign belief in God and even serve in religious roles in the church, but “be forever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Believers can also take the religious road, often living between worldliness on one hand and legalism on the other; and sometimes they go up both roads at the same time! These Christians have been forgiven but rarely experience Jesus in any kind of intimate way, relying more on serving God than learning to truly love him. They often “worship” the Bible and major in knowledge rather than a living relationship with the ONE who wants to share His great love and healing with them.
As we all know, the Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as our self. This is learning and walking in agape love. Our human love is never sufficient for the task; only God’s love living through us is. One of the keys to attaining this is by discerning the difference between unconditional love and “love with a hook,” termed “Eros” by Bob. Although Eros has become associated more with sex, the actual definition is about extreme selfISHness. Pictorially, it’s a snake eating its tail!
The difference is loving people for WHO they are rather than for WHAT they can do for us. “Love with a hook” manipulates, controls and uses others for our own agendas. Our actions can appear so righteous yet be full of our own purposes. The ministry is full of people with these motivations! The only sure fire way to overcome this is to focus on God for Himself, and not just what He does for us, die to our selfish agendas and to admit our love is insufficient. Until we understand our love is essentially superficial, we cannot begin to move freely in agape. Incidentally, we can obviously love God “with a hook,” focusing primarily on what He can DO for us rather than WHO He is.
Walking in agape is a very hard thing to do, especially in a society that is need-centered and self-centered. We can begin to do this by expressing first how much we love Him every day of our lives. We may find this hard to do, but it will help realign the focus away from our own selves to the Father. Second, we can begin to know that God will supply all our needs because we belong to Him, and not necessarily because we can confess the right scriptures to “get God” to do for us what He wants to do for us, anyway. I know of one national ministry that needs about $36,000 an hour to remain solvent. This man says he never asks God for the money, nor does he manipulate his followers through emotional pleas. He simply worships and trusts God to meet the need. He understands well the scripture, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches by Christ Jesus.” How cool is that?
Many years ago, I went through a very challenging time when I felt like my world had crashed. Frankly, I was worried about my future, my family’s needs, etc. One morning, as I was praying, the Holy Spirit said, “Take no thought for your life” (Matt. 6:25). Jesus spoke this to all of us who can begin to be stressed over our needs. He further said His Father knew everything we needed and would supply it, but worrying about things was fruitless!
If we remain focused more on our needs instead of His love, we will run the risk of feeling increasingly fearful, depressed and unstable, as our society becomes even more self-preserving, cold and calculating. Learning to walk in agape love will ensure us that God will certainly meet every need – but not every want – we have. Faith works by love (agape) (Gal. 5:6).
I would be the first to admit how much more I need to refocus and remain on the Father and His love, but I’ve certainly begun to understand my need to do this, and I hope you will, too. When people become ultimately self-centered and Eros-focused, they turn from any form of self control toward sheer hatred and ungodliness to satisfy the basest desires imaginable:
2 Timothy 3:1-5 Amplified Bible (AMP)
3 But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear]. 2 For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. 3 [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. 4 [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. 5 For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].
God’s agape is a fire that’s going to ignite the church. Let’s catch it!