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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Is it REALLY Possible to Love God this much?

Exploring loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.



The Bible establishes the precept that we should have a better relationship with our heavenly Father than we do with our families.

Here are a few radical "Be The Few" type passages to ponder:

Luke 14:26–27 If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 10:37–38 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

I wrestle with these passages. Do you?

I examine myself often to see if I’m in the faith or where I am in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). I try to use tangible comparisons so I can get some type of a foothold on the spiritual precepts I discover in the bible. If I have a hard time with a concept, I try to distill it down to something small that I can manage. In this case, I was thinking about my relationship with the Lord and comparing that with the relationship with my family.

I know that there are many people today that have lousy relationships with their families. I am grateful to have had a family that was very close. It is rare these days, I know.

Think about when Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22). Abraham knew that if he loved God more than Isaac, then both he and Isaac would fare better in the long run. I grapple with the fact that God wanted to prove Abraham in that fashion.  Abraham was definitely being salted with fire.

Abraham’s test of love and faith shows us that our love for our family is to take a back seat to our love for God. This is not easy. Abraham set a model for us of radical obedience.

Jacob, another man of God, grieved so much over Joseph that he was going to go down to the grave heartbroken. He did this in spite of the promises that God gave him. Jacob’s love for his family appeared to be more than his love for God. God turned that around when He reunited Jacob with Joseph and saved his entire family alive. See Genesis 37 through 50 for the story.



Thinking about my dad here…

My dad and I were very close. He would do anything for me. He was a great dad!

It is hard for me to fathom having a better relationship with my heavenly Father than I did with my earthly father. Yet, the bible says this should be the case. I would assume a lot of people struggle with this precept.

Dad has been gone since 1999. Looking back, I can see how much Dad sowed into my life. He spent a lot of time with me. We would watch BlockBuster movies, play tennis, chess, and do the alphabet game for unending hours on our many road trips. Heck, it was fun even to clean the house when Dad was around! That’s nuts, right?

I fell short in my part of our relationship because I was selfish. As Dad got older, he would ask me to play tennis. I started telling him ‘no’. I was exerting my independence, but right now I wish I said ‘yes’ every time he asked me to play tennis. I was sowing selfishness and now I am reaping regret. This weighs heavy on my heart often.

Do I feel this type of regret when I let God down?

With my heavenly Father, I haven’t been able to reach out and hug Him with my physical arms. I haven’t been able to actually see the price that Jesus paid for me on the cross with my physical eyes. The love the bible talks about is something I have to find through spiritual searching.

Sure there are movies and there are the accounts in the Bible that depict what Jesus did for us. But I haven’t been able to hug God like I’ve been able to hug my dad with my physical arms. I can’t really play tennis with Jesus, or chess, although I could probably make a case for watching a movie with Him! LOL! There are points in the Passion of the Christ or some other movies I feel like God was giving me a ‘spiritual’ hug. Or in ‘God’s not Dead’ I feel like giving Jesus a High Five at times!

To put things in perspective. God has come through for me over and over again. Time and time again the Lord has met my needs according to His riches in glory. I’ve encountered God more than once and He has radically changed my life. He has done so many amazing things that I know that He loves me. All of this, however, is a component of faith.

Faith is substance, but it is an unseen substance (Heb 11:1). A substance of hope. Which is intangible.

There is the crux.

Faith makes us look mentally deranged to unbelievers. Let’s just come right out and say it. Having faith in an invisible God looks imbecilic to those that don’t know Him. The more faith we have and exert, the nuttier we look to the world!

With Dad, I didn’t need faith. I could just pick up the phone and call him. With Dad, I could reach out and hug him with my physical body. Dad was tangible. Real like banging on the keys of this computer as I type.

With the Lord, I have to approach my relationship with him spiritually by faith. And somehow that faith is to lead me to where I love an invisible God more than a visible parent. This love means that God is to be at the reins of my heart and not my family.

Revelation 2:23 …. all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: ….
There’s that part of the Bible where it says that the fathers will turn in the children and families will be divided over Jesus so much so that they betray each other even to death! (Matthew 10:20,21). It floors me every time I read those passages. It is hard for me to fathom family members betraying one another over Jesus. But it happens.

Jesus also says that our love for Him has to make our love for our fathers and mothers seem like hate (Luke 14:26 see above) in comparison. This is a hard passage to swallow in light of honoring our parents is part of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:12). But that is how I am dealing with that scripture for now.

In exploring this dilemma, I know that my desire for God has to be stronger than my desire to see my family again. A lot of people say they will be excited to see their family when they get to heaven. I will be too. However, our affections should be set upon God more than our families.

Here is a doozy #BeTheFew type passage for this discourse:

Matthew 8:21–22 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Think about that! Jesus wants us to follow Him so much that even burying our parents has to take a back seat to following Jesus.

I guess it boils down to this.  If I had to choose between Jesus or my dad, I would choose Jesus. And you know what? Dad would want me to. Because he knows Jesus is Lord. No matter what. Dad knows that it is best if we ALL put God first!

This may be why we don’t read of Isaac struggling or complaining when Abraham was going to sacrifice him (Gen 22). They both knew to put God first. God was first in Abraham’s family. The FATHER of faith. He is our example.

Where are you in your love for God? Do you struggle with this?

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