If you haven't read Crazy Love by Francis Chan, I would strongly encourage you to. If there's a book besides the Bible that has changed my way of thinking, that's it. In fact, I have 2 copies so I can always loan one out and have one to read (by the way...who has my second copy?) :)
Anyway. Crazy Love ties together scripture and honest discussion about being a serious follower of Christ in a way that will humble you and make you think seriously about your level of devotion and inspire you to focus on your relationship with Him.
Today I'm just going to include a couple of thoughts from Crazy Love that are making me think today and I hope they'll challenge you too.
What I want you to think about and pray about today is motivation. If we're living and thinking how we should, our motivation for everything should be our love for Christ and our gratitude for salvation. But is that what's motivating us?
I'll be honest, it's pretty hard for me to really love Someone who I can't see or talk to face-to-face right now. No matter how strongly I believe, or how obviously I feel He is displayed in His creation, sometimes it's hard for me to really have an emotional and mental reaction to Him and His work in my life . I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has that problem. It's easy to love physical family and friends, but sometimes our shortsightedness lends itself to a self-centered attitude that makes us too cynical to build feelings for the Lord, the very One who gives us all the love in our lives. Since we have a hard time building a true love for Him and a serious focus, sometimes our motivation for doing the right thing and for dreaming of Heaven is completely wrong. I know that I am guilty of this sometimes. I hope that when you think about this today you'll be honest with yourself and pray that you can be driven by love for Him and zeal for the Gospel, not by selfishness.
As you're trying to better yourself this summer, take an honest look at yourself. As Francis Chan says, "Don't assume you're good soil." Be willing to notice if you're lukewarm. I think I notice more lukewarm aspects of myself every day. Here are two ways I struggle in my motivation, and I hope thinking about this will help you grow closer to God also:
"Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they only want to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly sorry for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one." (Crazy Love--emphasis added)
1. Why do I avoid sin? Why am I grateful for salvation? Because I'm scared of Hell, or because I love holiness?
"The critical question for our generation--and for every generation--is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?" (God is the Gospel by John Piper, as quoted in Crazy Love)
2. Why do I want Heaven? Why am I working towards it? Because I want the "no tears" and "no pain" and "no goodbyes," or because GOD is there? Do I love God enough that it matters to me?
Today I challenge you to read Psalm 63 and pray that THAT will be a description of your attitude towards God today. Let's start disciplining ourselves to read more, pray more, and the beauty is that the more we look to God and talk to Him, the more we'll love Him.
"O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You."
If we really love Christ, our sinlessness will come from a desire to be like Him and with Him forever.
Pray about that today.
2 Cor. 5:14 "For the love of Christ compels us...."