Summary: To restore a passion for the Christ, we need to remember the great privilege of being called to follow Jesus. This message is to help Christ followers renew a passion for Jesus by calling them back value God's favor over his blessings.
When I come home from work and see my family for the first time during after a long day of work, my kids come running to give me a big hug and welcome me home. I love those times.
Not long ago, I remember coming home from work one day and Josiah came running up to me to give me a big hug as he yelled, “DADDY!” Of course I did what every daddy would do. I got on one knee and welcomed that big hug. Pride began to well up in my chest. I thought to myself. “I am the best dad. My kid loves me sooo much. He can’t stand to be far from me.”
Then came the reason for the embrace. “Daddy, can I play with your Nintendo DS?” He wasn’t coming to embrace me because he wanted to be close to me at all!!! He came to give me a hug because he wanted something from me! Stinking kid!
As I sat thought about this for a second it was like God spoke to my heart and said, “You’ve come to me like that many times before!”
Ouch! Unfortunately that is very true. I remember so many times that I prayed like crazy, raising my hands in worship, and made promises to Him. Truth be told, I was not there because I was in awe of Him or because I wanted to be near to Him, but rather because I wanted something from Him and assumed that if I did the right things, said the right prayers, and made the right promises, He would give in and fulfill my selfish desires.
God knows my heart, my mind, and my motives. Because He does, He will not be tricked by empty, ME-centered worship.
I must be careful to pursue a healthy relationship with my Savior more than I pursue what He can give me. It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting the blessings of God, the hand of God in my life, and the miracles of God, but seem to forget that the true treasure I ought to seek more than a change in my circumstance and is, is His presence. It is easy to come to church and be a believer. It is harder to be the church and live as a disciple.
After all, Jesus never gave His life on the cross so I would have a better day. He came to lay down His life to forgive my sin, so that I can enter a relationship with Him and to live a victorious life. He never came just to give me more stuff and more money. He came to draw me closer to Himself in a loving relationship and then have me share that with others.
A lot of times, we make the mistake of thinking that being a Christian is only about accepting Jesus as Savior, so we go to Heaven when we die. That is a part of it, but did you know that in the bible, that was never the message that Jesus, John the Baptist preached? They preached to Israel that the Kingdom of God was coming. What that meant was that the power, influence, and hand of God was available to change their lives NOW – at that very moment, in the very circumstances they were in.
Recently I heard that in Scottland, a voluntary survey was given to law enforcement officers of their religious affiliations. That may not sound very interesting, but what caught my attention was that 8 of the officers claimed their religious affiliation to be “Jedi”. I laughed at the thought because I was sure it was a prank, but I then discovered that having “Jedi” as one’s religious affiliation is not a joke after all.
It was reported that there are an increased number of people who participate in light-saber trainings (ouch, if I remember right, one hit will take your arm right off) and meditation sessions to increase their Jedi skills. I’m not sure what I think of law enforcement having “Jedi” as their religious affiliation as we have all seen what happens when a Jedi turns to the dark side!
Anyways, I am a fan of Star Wars. I watch the movies. I watch the cartoons (sometimes). I enjoy playing light-saber fights with my son. If you ask me about Star Wars, I will praise the movies, the storyline, and the special effects. I will tell you that I think all of the movies were far ahead of their time in terms of technology, storyline, and computer generated effects.
Matthew reminds me today that if I want to grow in my intimacy with my Savior, there is a great difference between an admiring fan, and a devoted follower. Jesus searches for and calls His followers to be devoted followers, not admiring fans.