This morning I was trying to do quiet time and trying to read Jim Cymbala’s “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” (which, by the way, is absolutely incredible and hard for me to put down), and God kept telling me, “It’s all about my love. It’s all about my love. It’s all about my love.” I had to stop, and write about his love.
Funny thing is, his love is expressed in such a clear and amazing way to us, yet so many people completely ignore it. I feel very, very strongly about this one aspect of a Christian walk, and it’s hard for me to suppress the indignation I get when people turn up their noses at God by refusing to acknowledge what this is all about–it’s about his love.
Here’s what I’m talking about. Begin soapbox.
If you’re not reading the Bible on a regular basis, you don’t understand anything about God’s love and you probably don’t have a real relationship with Christ. There, I said it.
Think of the person who means the most to you in this world. He or she has to leave you for an unspecified period of time. You know he’ll be back someday but you don’t know when and your heart aches to see him. He writes a long letter to you in his absence, outlining his love for you (doesn’t have to be romantic, remember) and covering in complete detail how much you mean to him.
Are you going to leave it sealed in an envelope? Are you going to read it once and throw it away or shove it in a drawer? Or are you, because no one has ever meant as much to you and proven himself not only in his love for you but also as worthy of your love, going to read it and re-read it and read it out loud and read it silently and cry over it and smile over it and think about it when you’re not reading it and memorize each and every line and marvel over the way he’s formed his letters and worded each phrase and cherish those papers so much they begin to fall apart in your hands?
If you have a solid relationship with him and have experienced his love, how could you ever just read his letter and throw it away? How could you leave it sealed on the counter? The Bible is that letter. It’s all about God’s love for you. Cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation, that’s what the Bible is. It’s all about his love. It’s all about his love. It’s all about his love.
We know the Bible is God’s Word. We know Jesus is The Word. We know Jesus is the apex of God’s complete and unfailing love for us. If you’re not reading the Bible, you’re telling Jesus, “I don’t want a relationship with you” and “I want to see other people,” because if you’re not focused on a relationship with Christ, you sure as hell are building a relationship with the Devil.
Sometimes I get fired up.
By the way, church is not a replacement for reading the word. You don’t go to listen to someone teach or interpret the Bible for you so you don’t have to be bothered with it. Church is not a Bible-on-tape. Church is like the story of Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:27-39. When Philip asked the man if he understood what he was reading in the Bible, the Ethiopian said, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” The Lord had sent Philip to this man specifically to share the gospel with him.
(I feel like I could write an entire post just about all the key elements of this short passage and the way they should be a reflection of our lives: he knew God but didn’t have a relationship with Christ; he was searching for something more to understand God’s love; God positioned someone at just the right moment to explain the gospel; after believing, the man instantly desired to be baptized; the man went on his way rejoicing and praising God. Wow.)
Thinking about our church is what started this whole focus the past couple days. In our church specifically (and so many other great churches like it), the gospel is shared every service. That’s non-negotiable. Christ died for you, and all you have to do is believe that to be allowed an eternity with him. That’s it. Believe and pray. Add any other stipulations onto that, any rules someone has to do to get to heaven, and you’re taking away from the Truth, from what it’s all about, from God’s love. Oh yeah, and you’re also sinning, lying, falsely prophesying, whatever you want to call it. God had a lot of bad things to say about people like that.
Beyond sharing the gospel, our sermons & sermon series are tailored around the things people need to hear, the questions people are asking. The great thing about that is every one of them has a scriptural answer. You want to know what the Bible says about money? About sex? About work? About marriage? About children? Of course you do, we all do. So I’m thinking, “Surely there’s an underlying principle here in response to all these questions. I mean, yeah, there’s scripture to support this answer and that answer, but there must be one principle, one thesis, one foundational truth that explains all of this.” And God said, “There is. It’s all about my love.”
The Bible tells us how to handle our money, when we should and shouldn’t be having sex, how we should work, how to run our marriages and households, and in each and every scripture, the underlying reason is God’s love. Because he loves us, he teaches us, he instructs us. We have questions, the Bible has answers, and every single one of the answers is based on one very simple concept: God loves us.
It’s almost overwhelming, really. Over 31,000 verses in the Bible and they’re all about God’s love for us. I have to say, as much as I love people in this world, I could never sit and write 31,000 verses to them about my love and then actually be able to back them up with actions. And no one would ever be able to do that for me.
God is repeatedly telling you he loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. 31,000 times he wrote it. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.
Are you going to read it?