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I had to apologize to my wife. It definitely wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last that I wanted to seek forgiveness for my actions but this apology was unique. I had neglected something fundamental to our relationship and our lives together and I realized that I was not truly loving my wife. As I reflected deeply upon this I realized that I was not loving anyone…I was merely going through the motions. Allow me to explain…in the human sense of the word I love my wife well, I provide for her, protect her, listen to her needs, buy her flowers and all of the numerous trappings that come with the modern sentimentality of love. But this is not love, these romantic notions may be a small fragment of what love is but it falls woefully short of the love that God has modeled for us and called us to live out each day.

The love that we express in our society is a performance based “love.” Take a moment to reflect honestly about this. Our love is expressed to those who “deserve it” and have “earned it.” Every relationship that we have is entrenched with this worldview. We “love” our children when they behave and don’t embarrass us as parents, we “love” our friends and family members when they “love” us back and don’t betray our trust. We “love” our spouses when they do their share of the chores, help the household run smoothly or when they satisfy our emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

Shame on us.

Think of this amazing notion for just a moment…God loves us regardless of our performance! If we embarrass Him, betray Him, lie to Him, cheat on Him, forget about Him or neglect Him God still loves us. Not because of anything that we have done or could ever do, God loves us because of the sacrifice His Son made for us on the cross. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross (John 3:16) so we could understand how non-performance based God’s love for us truly is. God has shown us that he loves us despite our performance and that we are to love others in the same way, not based on performance but according to the worth God has ascribed upon us, the eternal worth which was purchased in blood by Jesus Christ.

Christianity is unique in this major aspect from all other world religions or belief systems…that “God is love.” (1 John 4:16b) Not that God knows how to love or that love is an aspect of who He is, but that love is the essence of His entire being. Likewise, to be called His children, we are called to love like God, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16) I want to love others like God loves me, not based on performance but based on the eternal love that is mercifully shown to me every moment of my existence. That’s True Love and it’s time I live it out…will you join me?

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What you find is that the problem of faith lies in us, not God, and it all comes down to a level of trust. Society tells us today to trust no one, to look out for #1, to take care of me. Nowhere are we told to trust in God; not in society, not in our schools, not in our places of work and frighteningly not in our churches. You heard me correctly, our churches. The one place you would assume would be overflowing with faith and trust is the one place where most people see a pragmatic, religious atheism played out on a daily basis. An oxymoron to be sure, but truth nonetheless. How is it “religious atheism” you might ask? We confess our lives to God yet we live our lives as if He doesn’t exist. We say we have given our hearts and lives to Christ to be our “Lord and Savior” yet we treat Him as if he couldn’t change a lightbulb, that He has no ability to work powerfully in our lives. On Sunday we have “faith” but come Monday we forget that He exists.

We allow ourselves to be forced into faith. What do I mean by that? Think about this for a moment; when was the last time you exhibited faith when you weren’t in a crisis? Interesting thought, isn’t it? Unfortunately we have things backwards in life, we feel that we are capable of taking care of everything, shelter, provisions, money, health and medicine and only in those rare situations when we don’t have any control over the outcome are we forced into faith in God. He becomes our last resort, our last hope, the Hail-Mary pass at the end of the game instead of being the first choice…the only choice. So my question is this, is that faith? Or, does that equate to something close to hitting a panic button and hoping something favorable happens? If God has proven Himself to us (as I established in part 1), why does it require such effort to “have faith?” Could it be that our faith is built upon our own expectations and not God’s and ultimately the problem is with the “our faith” part instead of it being “His faith.” If we were to lay aside our incomplete trust and faith while fusing ourselves to the faith only given by God our dilemma would be resolved. An example from Scripture will help clarify the point.

While Jesus was teaching a crowd of 5,000 assembled to be healed and listen to the words of Christ. When it started getting late Jesus asked the disciples to feed the people and the disciples responded in unbelief, “we have only five loaves and two fish.” (Matt 14:17) Jesus used what the disciples had to feed the 5,000 and then some. What Jesus didn’t do was ask how the disciples would solve the situation, He acted, in a mighty way to show the disciples that nothing is impossible for God. Therefore, they had no reason to doubt God. Seems like a good lesson in learning faith, so Jesus gives the disciples another shot at it. In Matthew 15, Jesus has a crowd of 4,000 following him when the same problem arises, how do we feed these people? The disciples ask Jesus, “Where could we get enough bread…to feed such a crowd?” WAIT…what just happened? Jesus fed a larger crowd just weeks before and the disciples don’t have a clue on how to feed them…are the disciples that slow? Or a better question, are WE that slow?

The disciples became powerful in building the Kingdom once they were able to let go of their selfish motives, their pride, their lack of faith and when they started obeying God. Let’s stop treating God’s Word as a collection of bedtime stories and start realizing them for what they are…True Life! Faith comes from obedience, and the greatest part is that God is faithful to us even when we aren’t obedient. Faith isn’t hard, wanting to obey God daily becomes hard because we allow the world to pull on us in so many directions, but stand your ground Christian! We have a God who proves Himself to us everyday, so let us take the “problem of faith” and use it as the Creator intended it, as the power of faith!

One of the easiest ways for someone to see culture captured in a microcosm is for one to make their way down to the local theater and catch a movie. My wife and I decided to have a little date night and watch “Battle: Los Angeles” (I know…she’s awesome) and see what the newest installment of Hollywood’s take on “end of the world” scenarios would entail. Basically, the movie involves earth being attacked by an unknown alien force systematically wiping out humankind. All that stands between life and annihilation is a small squadron of Marines that eventually bear the burden of being the last hope of mankind. Surprisingly, what I ended up taking away from the film was one rather nagging question, where is our hope?

Think about this for a moment, how does Hollywood attract the crowds week after week? By giving people the one thing which they lack so much in every aspect of their daily lives…hope. For most of the movie I couldn’t help but feel dread completely overwhelming me, we were outgunned, outmanned and completely outmatched. Yet, at that moment when I felt all was lost came the faintest glimmer of it…hope. And rightfully so, why would anyone watch a movie that wasn’t brimming with hope? Take your favorite movie and remove every aspect of hope from it and what does that leave you with? For most, a haunting silhouette of everyday life, a life replete with problems and pain but lacking in any true hope.

The very real truth of the matter is this, life without hope is truly not life at all. And as a movie without a hero becomes unwatchable, so life without hope becomes unlivable. So the question is this, where is your hero and what is your hope? The hopes of men are fleeting and the heroes of men are merely mortal but there is One in whom all our hopes should lie. The One who bore the burden for all mankind, the very Son of God who was nailed to a tree, to be our hero, to be our Savior. Jesus Christ, whose death brought life and whose life brings hope.

What’s Happening on Twitter

  • Sitting at #NVDMV for hours, even with an appointment, has me rethinking my theological beliefs on purgatory 🤔 2 months ago
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  • I’m renaming all of my phone contacts with the names of Godzilla’s enemies. I’m still looking for a Jet Jaguar and a Biollante 😂 3 months ago
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