Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How much do you love God?

So Youth Week started today with a full days activity at Craigavon Watersports Centre. It was great craic and the weather stayed dry for a change! Each morning of this week we begin with some worship and a short devotion or thought for today. I led this today and this is what i shared...

How much do you love God? Think about it right now? How much do you love Him? How important is He to you? How high does He sit on your agenda?

It’s a hard question to quantify isn’t it? I mean it’s not like ‘how good are you at maths, or football?’ You can quantify those things much easier. Love is harder to quantify.

I bet if we went round the room and asked everyone what God meant to them we would use words like: Savour; friend; Father; forgiver; healer; EVERYTHING.

BUT how does that work out in our daily lives? How much do we love God in our everyday life and relationships?

I recently heard a quote that helped to quantify my love for God and really challenged me in the process.

Dorothy Day, co-founder in 1933 of the Catholic Worker Movement said this:
"You only love God as much as you love the person you love the least."

I don’t know about you but when I first heard this it really made me stop and think about how much I love people (or fail to love people) as an indicator of how much I love God.

Author Brennan Manning went on a spiritual retreat and he wrote this:

‘One lonely night in the Colorado Rockies, I heard this message [from God]: “Brennan, you bring your full presence and attention to certain members of the community but offer a diminished presence to others. Those who have stature, wealth, and charisma, those you find interesting or charming or pretty or famous command your undivided attention, but people you consider plain or dowdy, those of lesser rank performing menial tasks, the unsung and uncelebrated are not treated with the same regard. This is not a minor matter to me, Brennan. The way you are with others every day, regardless of their status, is the true test of faith.’

Can’t we all relate to this? Why are we like this? I think it’s our INSECURITY. We want to hang out with the ‘cool’ people, the ‘funny’ people, the ‘hot’ people because that makes us look ‘cooler’, ‘funnier’, or ‘hotter’. But what about Jesus? Who did Jesus hang out with? The disciples were pretty average really, they were awkward and they often got it wrong. They fought with each other and they abandoned Jesus when he needed them most. Who else did Jesus hang out with? Tax collectors, Samaritan women, prostitutes, lepers – people with questionable character and often people on the fringes of society.

So my question this morning is this – how many people with questionable character do you know? Do you know many drunks, thief’s, prostitutes or homeless? What about people on the fringes of our culture and society? Gay people? Immigrants? Disabled folk or the elderly?

How much do you really love God?

So how does this fit in with the Bible? Does the Bible agree that we ‘only love God as much as the person we love the least’?

Matthew 5:46-48 (New Living Translation)
46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[c] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

This passage challenges us not to measure our love by how much we love the people who love us back. Also let us not forget about the passage of the sheep and goats when Jesus makes it clear that how we treat others is directly linked to how we treat Him.

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

So there is a challenge for us all this morning. Are we going to chase after the adoration and approval of others to find our value, worth and SECURITY. Or, are we actually going to be radical enough to believe God when he says that HE LOVES US, and respond accordingly in the way we treat the rest of the world?

What if it is true that:
"You only love God as much as you love the person you love the least."

Let’s meditate on the following Scripture for a few minutes:

19 We love each other[a] because he loved us first.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister,[b] that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.[c]
~ 1 John 4:19-21


Peter Martin said...

Absolutely powerful, thank you mate for that!!

mjstrand said...

Well stated! I heard the quote by Dorthy Day today for the first time; your elaboration related to it hits the mark.

Thank you brother!