The Difficulty of REALLY Loving God
Joseph Beckham is the author of Overcoming Bipolar Disorder & Other Mental Difficulties: A Christian Perspective.
Get the print version today at https://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Bipolar-Mental-Difficulties-Paperback/dp/1365045684/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1486421959&sr=8-2&keywords=joseph+beckham%2C+bipolar+book. Joe is also the author of Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls â€“ http://amzn.com/1493781286
â€œThese people make a big show of saying the right thing,Â but their hearts arenâ€™t in it.
Because they act like theyâ€™re worshiping me
but donâ€™t mean it,â€ (Isa. 29:13 The Message)
If thereâ€™s One Thing that should be the desire of every Christian, itâ€™s loving God. After all itâ€™s the major command of the Bible:
And then a certain lawyer arose to try (test, tempt) Him, saying, Teacher, what am I to do to inherit everlasting life [that is, to partake of eternal salvation in the Messiahâ€™s kingdom]? Jesus said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it? And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself â€œ(Amplified). Jesus wanted know where this manâ€™s heart was. Incidentally, this command appears at least five times in various places in the Bible, including the Old Testament.
I always envied people who seemed to love God with such ease. For whatever reasons, I know that was wonderful for them. The rub is itâ€™s sometimes much harder than it sounds in a supposed biblical culture. The typical question is, â€œWhere do you go to church?â€ For our their own good and ours, perhaps we should ask, â€œDo you love God?â€ while asking ourselves the same question. If they/we answer yes, the next question should be â€œhow much?â€ This is extremely important because many believe that weâ€™re in a post-Christian era, especially in the USA. Church attendance is down, as many people, who identify themselves as â€œChristian,â€ have opted to forgo the weekly trek to â€œthe house of Godâ€ and worship God from wherever they choose, which is often nowhere at all.
The truth is so often this vacation from church becomes permanent. There are exceptions to this rule of thumb, particularly among the mega-churches. For instance, where I attend, the Church of the Highlands, whose main office is in Birmingham, Al, boasts of nearly 50,000 people. On Easter of this year, 90,000 people showed up. Of these numbers, only God truly knows whoâ€™s been born again by accepting His free gift of salvation. The churchâ€™s outreach is incredible, touching lives with 18 church sites across Alabama and in the majority of correctional facilities in this state.
Church attendance certainly isnâ€™t a measuring stick of who loves God, but itâ€™s an indicator. If our diversions are constant sources of pleasure rather than the pursuit of loving God, in difficult times when persecution arises, we may find ourselves pressured to give into cultural beliefs, standards and norms rather than staying with Godâ€™s Word. In other words, we might be making God in our own images, other than the other way around. In some places we have to agree that problem is happening now.
If loving God is paramount, why the hindrance?
In the case of Israel, to whom God gave this original command, their lack of love for God was constantly due to idols â€” the pagan gods worshipped by their neighbors. Apparently, they wanted gods they could see with their physical eyes, gods of wood, stone and other materials made with human hands. In the USA we donâ€™t often see this kind of foolishness, but people do turn to New Age practices, the occult, Scientology, or they turn to nothing but a hedonistic way of life ushered in by self-centered self-help programs.
Americans raised in church often leave in favor of the above ways of because they feel believing in themselves and finding â€œthe good lifeâ€ more preferable than attending church. Having a nice home, a fine car and a beach house, they feel, for example, supplant the need for God, and church becomes as exciting as worshipping the dumb idols of the Old Testament.
Personally, I can relate to most of this after essentially giving up on church in my early 20s in favor of â€œwine, women and song.â€ I was also encumbered with a myriad of emotional and mental difficulties that had plagued me from birth onward unbeknownst to my friends and family. I was good at keeping the lid on my predicament that was caused mostly by sin and bad choices. Suffice to say that Satan had a major stronghold in my life! By the time this mess reached maturation, I was Bipolar! Incidentally, I wrote a fairly lengthy book on this and how Jesus can heal those willing to seek His face from this very difficult malady. Quite honestly, it has taken years of inner healing and deliverance to find the freedom that Jesus promised. But, thank God, by His grace, I have it! I feel like the â€œvery wickedâ€ woman who anointed Jesusâ€™ feet with costly oil and washed them with her tears:
Therefore I tell you, her sins, many [as they are], are forgiven herâ€”because she has loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little.
I laid this foundation in this article to emphasize that I believe the majority of Christians in America donâ€™t love God as they should because they donâ€™t know how! In many churches, the emphasis is on what God can do for you. In other words, it becomes a human-centered dynamic rather than God-centered. The pictorial illustration of Eros is that of a snake eating its tail! And we wonder why America is losing its spiritual life? The economy prospers while love for God and people waxes cold:
And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, (Amp)
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12 KJV).
The Greek word for love in this passage is agape. In essence, this kind of love comes from God to us, and our love back to God! As Bob Mumford puts it, â€œItâ€™s love without a hook.â€ Itâ€™s the God kind of love that loves unconditionally. The diametric opposite of this love is Eros. It means we love because of what someone can do for us. Eros is often equated with sex, but originally it simply meant self-centered. Breaking down the other Greek words in this passage tells us a great deal about whatâ€™s happening to this society:
The word iniquity means â€œlawless.â€ We are constantly seeing how many in our society violate the rule of law. The word wax (psycho) means to move from one temperature to another, from warm or hot to cold by an inanimate wind. In other words love (agape) for God and others turns cold because of wickedness and lawlessness being experienced in our daily lives.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
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]. 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.[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. [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. 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].
An old Message but highly up to date for our age. Note that first item of this terrible description is that people will be â€œlovers of selfâ€ in the last days (utterly self-centered). In other words, characterized by Eros, even by those who identify themselves as Christian. One of most impressive examples about a very dynamic Christian leader who didnâ€™t understand agape vs. Eros was a man named Jack Frost. Jack saw literally hundreds of people saved, healed and baptized in the Holy Spirit, but because of a demanding, critical father, Jack had striven for acceptance, which ultimately blocked intimacy with Father God. However, after Jack realized this during a prayer time for pastors who had struggled with unloving fathers, he broke down in a flood of tears, and realized for the first time that God really did love him! Following this, Jack Frost became one of the leaders in what is known as â€œThe Agape movement.â€
Letâ€™s examine additional blocks to realizing and growing in Godâ€™s love:
- Judgments made toward parents â€” Judgments toward parents equates to dishonoring them, something the Bible makes clear hinders intimacy with blessing from God.
- Involvement in Freemasonry and/or the occult. These can amount to curses in our lives, which work against love in every respect. A person plagued by these is reaping ungodly oaths made by himself or herself and by previous generations.
- Inutero wounding, (prenatal), which may cause one to withdraw from life itself â€” hating the very life God has given them.
- Abandonment and rejection â€” Both physical/psychological abandonment and psychological rejection result in feeling inferior and unloved.
The culmination of these things can combine to result in bipolar disorder, as the chemicals in the brain become â€œjumbledâ€ and an unstable personality becomes â€œpermanentâ€ without major intervention by the Holy Spirit. The sad aspect is that the image of the true and loving Father God becomes horribly distorted in our minds.
These are all major, but there are numerous other blocks that can keep us from KNOWING and enjoying Godâ€™s love. A forgiving spirit and a serious hunger to overcome can result in victory. Itâ€™s a tough road, but by Godâ€™s incomparable grace, we are â€œmore than conquerors through Him that loved usâ€ (Romans 8:31-39).