The Basics of Authentic Christianity
The Internal Motivation: Passion
Getting Back to the Basics…it’s a cry heard in business, sports, and in life. But why is it so vital?
Why the basics? … Because everything we do well is the result of mastering the basics. That’s why football practices start with drills and professional musicians still practice their scales. It’s why artists must first learn all the different brushstrokes and how to prepare a canvas before they can begin to paint.
And the most basic of basics for Christians is to be authentic – to live what we say we believe.
Our culture is spiritually hungry and desperately looking for AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANS.
Yet in this time of spiritual hunger the church is declining.
Not because the church won’t accommodate the culture
Many denominations, out of a fear of being labeled intolerant, have compromised the truth of God’s word for what is more culturally acceptable.
Despite their attempt to please everyone, these churches have empty pews and little impact on people’s lives.
If people are hungry for spirituality, why aren’t they looking to the church? There may be several answers to this question, but I think it all boils down to the fact that
The churches… and individual Christians… are not authentic
The world looks at the church and sees
People who cheat in their businesses, cheat on their spouses, and cheat on their taxes
They see people who gossip, worry, curse and complain as much as they do, sometimes even more!
In a word, they see hypocrites. People who say they have been changed, who go to church 1-3 days a week, claim to be Christians, yet behave just like the rest of the world day in and day out.
Our culture longs to see real Christians, not perfect Christians, but real Christians… Authentic Christians.
Turn with me to Matthew 22:34-40.
Matthew 22:34 - 40 (NKJV) 34But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’£ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’£ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
In this passage, the Pharisees send an expert in their religious law to test Jesus (try to trip Him up) by asking Him a highly debated question of the day.
The Pharisees, the religious leaders, observed 613 different commands
They often disagreed as to which one was the greatest.
They thought Jesus’s teaching was so radical they wanted to test Him in front of the people.
They expected Him to deny the law, but instead He quoted a part of Scripture that the Jews repeated everyday.
He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And don’t forget… Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Here JESUS GIVES US THE CALL TO AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY.
He tells us we must love God with ALL that we are
½ hearted love is not acceptable!
God demands an all consuming love
Tonight we are going to EXPLORE THIS COMMANDMENT – Loving God with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind
We’re going to look at WHAT I BELIEVE JESUS IS SAYING IS ESSENTIAL TO AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY.
What does it mean to “love God with all our heart?”
Jesus is talking about an internal motivation that should drive us. We are to be driven by a love for God… we are to have a passion for God.
In Matt 6:21, Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
WHAT WE TREASURE REFLECTS OUR PASSION AND WE HAVE A PASSION FOR WHAT WE CONSIDER TO BE OUR TREASURE. Our problem is that we don’t treasure God. Oh… He’s our savior and our friend… we’ll visit Him every once in a while, but He’s not our treasure.
A.W. Tozer said it like this … “We may WANT God, but we want something else more. And we get what we want most.”
We need a PASSION FOR GOD. What do I mean by passion?
Let me tell you what I don’t mean first:
I’m not talking about just an emotion or a feeling
I’m not talking about something sensual or romantic
The Passion I’m talking about is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: A STRONG, EXTRAVAGANT FONDNESS, ENTHUSIASM, OR DESIRE FOR SOMETHING.
I’m talking about the need for us to have a strong, extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, and desire for God.
Is this passion I’m talking about Biblical… let’s look…
In the passage before us we are told to have an all-consuming love for God… to love Him with All our heart.
2 Chronicles 15:15 (NKJV) 15And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around.
Most of us know Psalm 42:1, which says, “As the deer pants for water so my soul pants for You”
When a deer is thirsty it seeks out a water source before it does anything else…we should have a desire within us to seek out God before anything else that we do?
Does that sound like passion for God? … It is the cry of authentic Christianity
When Jesus commands us to love God with all our heart, He is telling us to have the same strong, extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, and desire as expressed in these Scriptures.
Some of us are fired up right now because we can say that we have this all-consuming passion for God… but most of us don’t have this passion and we fit into one of two categories:
1. Those who need a heart transplant.
2. Those who have a new heart, but poor circulation.
Some of us can’t have a passion for God because we need a heart transplant. Listen to what the Bible says about our hearts and our passions apart from God.
Genesis 8:21 (NKJV)…the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…
We are born into sin… and sin keeps us from having a passion for God.
2 Chronicles 12:14 (NKJV) 14And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD.
Jeremiah 7:24 (NKJV) 24Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.
Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV) 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
If you’ve never given your life to Christ your heart is beyond cure… there’s nothing you can do… it’s impossible for you to have a passion for God because you need a new heart.
You can have an interest in God
You can have a desire for spiritual things
But you can’t have a true passion for God until God has given you a new heart.
God describes our heart transplant that occurs at salvation in
Ezekiel 36:26 - 27 (NKJV) 26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
We need a new heart because we are sick with sin. ... Our hearts have condemned us to death and eternal separation from God. Our only hope is to have our heart replaced and our sins forgiven.
And, because of Jesus Christ there is hope.
If you need a heart transplant, God wants to give you a new heart and He promises in…
Hebrews 10:16 - 17 (NKJV) 16“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”£ 17then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”£
When we give our lives to Christ in response to God’s pull at our heart, we not only get a new heart, but we get a new heart that knows and wants to obey God. God gives us the desire and passion to be authentic Christians.
But why do some of us who have a new heart, not have a passion for God?
Our problem is that we have poor circulation.
We have allowed sin to clog our arteries and our love… our passion for God has grown cold.
We know deep down that we don’t love God with ALL our heart. We love Him, and we want to follow Him, but not as much as other things. And remember… WE GET WHAT WE WANT THE MOST.
Revelation 2:4 (NKJV) 4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Perhaps this is true of you… You know that your passion for God has been choked out by other things. Well…
Revelation 2:5 (NKJV) 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
If you have left your first love… if you have lost your passion for God, He urges you to turn back! You CAN recover the early love you had for God.
But maybe you’re here this morning and you look like you have it all together… no one would question your love for God, but you know it’s all on the outside… inside you know you’ve lost your passion and its just getting too hard to pretend anymore.
Rev 3:1 says, “I know your deeds, you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”
God knows your heart and He is not fooled.
In his classic Paradise Lost, John Milton wrote, “Neither men nor angels can discern hypocrisy, (it is) the only evil that walks invisible – except to God.”
If this is your condition… if you’re tired of acting passionate or playing church listen to this…
Revelation 3:3 (NKJV) 3Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
It’s not too late to “recover your first love” or correct your “sinful condition”.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
Don’t allow sin to keep you from acquiring the strong, extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, and desire that Jesus commands that we have when He tells us to “Love God with all our heart.”
IN ORDER TO BE AUTHENTIC WE MUST BE MOTIVATED IN ALL WE DO BY A PASSION FOR GOD.
So what can you do if you’ve lost your passion for God?
You can renew your passion by:
1. Worshiping and serving God out of love, not obligation.
When was the last time you truly sang out of your heart in worship?
Or when you did something simply because you love God?
The church needs people who earnestly desire to worship God inspirit and in truth… people who come and pour out all their heart in the worship of God…
When we sing this next song… pour your love out upon God.
2. Making time to pursue God in Bible study and prayer.
James 4:8 says that when we draw near to God, He’ll draw near to us.
If you want to renew your passion… draw near to God.
3. Having a time of sharing, praying, and talking about God with your family or friends.
2 Timothy 2:22 (NKJV) 22Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
THOSE WHO CALL ON THE LORD FROM A PURE HEART.
Pursue God with your family… or if your single… with your friends
4. Responding to God right now in prayer.
Perhaps God is dealing with you right now and you need to come forward to the altar and pour out your heart to God…
Or maybe you want that new heart and passion for God … you come as we sing