Dear Choosy Lover,
Ever been so enamored with someone that you just can’t imagine your life without them? Before the advent of text messaging and other social media, I can recall a time when two teens in love would chat on the phone in a conversation similar to this:
BOY: I love you.
GIRL: I love you, too.
BOY: I love you three!
GIRL: I love you forever!
And on, and on, and on they would go for hours. Then they’d both fall asleep on the phone because neither one of them wanted to be the first to hang up. Don’t front- you know you did it too! 😀
Remember that? That crazy love? That deep love? The type of love that would have you going to the ends of the earth just to make the other person smile? And then, at some point, something changes. Something goes wrong. The love you once knew doesn’t seem quite the same any more. What happened? Who changed? I bet God is asking the same question about some of you reading this post. How deep is your love for Him?
If you really want to know, you can simply look at your relationship towards the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ, and Christ is the head (Colossians 1:18). How can you truly love the Lord, and not love His Body? How can you accept part of Him and not all of Him? Let’s be honest- you can’t. There seems to be varying degrees of love and commitment to Christ- different relationship statuses, if you will. I have narrowed down these status levels into 4 main categories: Single-Minded, Superficial, Shacking, and Submitted. Let’s examine each, shall we?
These are the folks who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but aren’t looking for commitment. If they join a church, it’s out of temporary guilt/emotion, rather than a deep longing to grow in the Lord. They’re dating Jesus. They come to church when it’s beneficial for them: when they’re lonely or in need of a pick-me-up, or to receive freebies (counseling, back-to-school supplies, turkey baskets at Thanksgiving, etc). These folks are your spiritual gold-diggers. They take, take, take, and rarely give anything back to God. They have no relationship with Him. Nope. They’re just dating. They enjoy occasional quickies with Jesus. Not looking for anything serious. They just want to “enjoy” Him and “have fun”.
You know them well- they tout the Bible (in a carrying case, of course), shout on cue, blast their favorite Gospel radio station while at work, and share their testimony everywhere they go. They’re members of a local church and some of them are even faithful in returning the tithe. They’re in what I like to call the “loopy” stage (this can last for up 2 years- which is ironically about the same time most folks tend to “fall out of love” with someone. Go figure!). They’re “in love with Jesus”. They’ll do anything for Him- until the feelings wear off or until something goes wrong. Some may call them the “Shallow Saints”. At some point, some stop putting the effort into going to church. It’s no longer a priority. Others are simply ready to jump ship at the first sign of trouble. They say things like, “I just don’t feel the same anymore. I don’t think I’m growing here. I’m not being fed. Something’s changed.” As a result, they go from one church to another (or just stop going to church altogether) until that loving feeling wears off again. Sadly, they don’t see that it’s not the church. It’s their shady level of commitment when things aren’t going their way. They can easily be mistaken for “Super Saints” but they really just have a superficial relationship with Christ. They soon begin to proclaim,
“I don’t need to go to Church. I have the Church in my heart. I am the Church. That’s why I’m spiritual, not religious.”
(Oh, give me a break!). Their relationship status suddenly changes from “Taken” to “It’s Complicated”.
These Saints appear to have it all together. They faithfully return the tithe and attend Service and Bible Study. They enjoy praising the Lord. They also enjoy making it a point to tell everyone else how to live their life. They think they’re doing the church a favor by being a member. They’re kind of, well, self-righteous. Shacking Saints are really good at nagging and complaining about everything in their church, but rarely do anything to contribute spiritually to its growth. Some would consider them “holier than thou”, or “deep Saints”. They’re clothed in pride, draped in judgement, and naked of repentance. Truth be told, they’re just shacking with Jesus. They attend church religiously without relationship. They’ve been playing the role for so long, they’re now comfortably stuck. A higher level of commitment would take them too far out of their comfort zone. Oh sure- they trust God… just not enough to relinquish full control of their life to Him. They’re reaping all of the physical benefits of the relationship, but none of the intimate benefits (spiritual growth). These Shacking Saints aren’t whole in Christ. He’s just their “better half”.
These folks are truly souled out for Christ. Their relationship with Jesus extends far beyond Sunday Morning Worship Service. They don’t just follow Christ- they live for Him. They go IN during Praise and Worship. They contribute cheerfully to the expenses of the church and the relief of the poor. They engage in regular spiritual intimacy (prayer). They are true servants and disciples of Christ. They’re ministry involvement is an act of worship. Like a submitted wife to her husband, these Saints willfully submit to Jesus because He gave the ultimate sacrifice for them. Jesus is the center of their joy. Their love runs deep for Him and His anointing overflows on them. They don’t profess to be perfect; they just want God’s perfect will for their life. Fully submitted and fully committed- that’s what they are.
John 3:16 is a perfect example of God’s love for us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Now, that’s some deep love! How deep is your love for Him? No need in lying- your track record with church is a pretty good indication, and He already knows where you stand anyway! Give Him the courtesy of keeping it real. Confess your willful disobedience. Submit to a fully committed relationship with Christ. The longer you run from His loving arms, the longer you miss out on the splendor of His Majesty in your life. He knows everything (yes, EVERYTHING) about you, and loves you nonetheless.
You have an ongoing date with Jesus. Will you show up next time? There is a well-balanced spiritual meal prepared for you each week. Your Pastor sets the table and invites you to feast on the Word of God. You can study the Bible on your own all you want, but it’s just not the same as receiving the Word from the Man or Woman of God who has been trained and anointed to give you the spiritual nourishment you need. How could you not partake in the Sacrifice that has been prepared just for you? Don’t you know your own spiritual development is dependent on it?
Jesus gave His all for you. Isn’t it about time you stopped giving Him your leftovers? Allow Him to court you. It’s time for a deeper relationship, don’t you think?
~The Practical Chick