Summary: If your want to kick-start your faith, remember God loves you (Part 1 in a series on "How to Kick-start Your Faith).
When God is doing nothing he is always doing something - loving his people. It’s true isn’t it, that at times God seems to be doing nothing in our personal lives or in the world around us. But the truth is, he is always doing something, he is always loving his people.
Sometimes our journey with God is like that of the Jews in Israel at the time when Malachi was writing. Sometimes our faith seems to get all serious, with little excitement and a whole lot of boredom or unwanted stress. At times we feel that God’s blessing has all dried up, that the joy of knowing God has in fact become a drag. In Malachi the Lord has a message of hope for us as we endure these times of spiritual drought - If you want to kick-start your faith, remember that I love you.
I. REMEMBER WHICH GOD LOVES YOU (v2a)
This passage begins with the tender yet authoritative message from God himself, “An oracle: The word of the LORD to Israel through my messenger [Malachi]. I have loved you.” There is nothing original about this statement from God. You know it, I know it, and God’s chosen people, the Israelites knew it - God loves his chosen people. Yet Israel, at this point in its history, was like many of God’s people today. They had become bored with their faith. Tired of waiting for God to act. So much so that they had begun to question wether or not their God really did love them and they had begun to look for satisfaction elsewhere.
What the Israelites needed then, and what God’s people often need today, is to remember which God loves us.
The problem with the Israelites was that they had a head knowledge of God’s love - but their experience of God’s love had been watered down by so many outside influences that it had become powerless. They knew in their minds that their God loved them. He loved them enough to rescue them from their oppressors in Egypt and lead them to their own land - the promised land. They knew that just 100 years prior to the time that Malachi was written God displayed his love once again by rescuing them from exile in Babylon. But lately God just didn’t seem to be interested in showing his love for them in such dynamic ways. The life of faith in fact had become pretty average - there was no spice in it.
This restless attitude lead the Israelites to look for alternatives. They married outside the faith. They began to put themselves before God by offering him second rate worship and they only took notice of those parts of the bible which sounded good to them and overlooked the parts that made life difficult. What they hadn’t realised was that if they wanted to kick-start their faith then God’s people needed to get him back into the centre of their lives and pronto.
You know, tied up in God’s tender statement, “I have loved you,” is the profound truth that following Him is all about a relationship. If you knew that all you had was a relationship with God, would you be totally and completely satisfied? I guess most of us would want to add something. Of course we’d like to be loved by God, but most of us would like to do something too. We are a “doing” people. In fact we feel worthless or useless unless we have something to do, something to contribute. But the message to God’s people here in Malachi is that to be loved by God is all that we need. To be loved by God is the highest relationship, the highest achievement and the highest position in life.
That doesn’t mean that God’s people will never do anything as an expression of their love for him. God will call on us to obey him and do whatever he asks of us. However, God’s people do not need to be doing something to feel fulfilled. God’s people are fulfilled completely because they are loved by him. If we want to kick-start our faith then we need to remember that when we are filled with him we don’t need anything else. We need to remember which God has loved us.
One songwriter has put it like this,
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or Gold,
Id’ rather be his than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be lead by his nail pierced hands.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause,
I’d rather be faithful to his dear cause,
I’d rather have Jesus than world wide fame,
I’d rather be true to his holy name.
He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom,