In the last post we exposed the error of self-focused love.
In our culture most of what passes for love is really just dressed-up self-interest.
I will feel love for you about as long as it makes me feel loved! But if you stop making much of me…and even dare to confront me or to point out my faults…well, I’m just not feeling the love anymore.
Here’s a very interesting statement Jesus made about love:
“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:25-26)
All through John 17 we find a central thread: Jesus is revealing how His entire existence was God-centered. Everything He did was to glorify the Father (i.e, make His Father known). Jesus experienced love and glory from one thing: knowing the Father and making Him known.
So here’s a radical principle about experiencing God’s love that I hope you will embrace:
The best way to experience God’s love is to not try to experience “it”!
John Piper perhaps said it best, and I paraphrase from memory, “The greatest moments of satisfaction in life always involve self-forgetfulness.” Why do people feel so warm and fuzzy when they get to hold their first grandchild? Or see the Grand Canyon for the first time? Yes, these are truly amazing experiences.
But they are so emotionally gratifying because they enable us to escape from looking at ourselves!
Can you fathom someone stepping up to the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time, taking a look down and across, and then suddenly pulling out their purse looking for their makeup kit? No way! Maybe they will try to grab a camera to capture the moment! But they will not be thinking about taking a look in the mirror.
Lots of Christians are trying so hard to feel God’s love. In worship services they look at other people worshipping God, and think, “I’m not feeling what they are feeling. They are getting something I’m not getting.”
Or else, in “worship” they may be trying to manufacture the feelings of warmth and acceptance that they remember experiencing during some prior time of worship in their lives. This is not seeking to know God and make Him known. This is seeking a euphoric emotion from the past.
So stop worshipping your feelings. Consciously say to yourself,
“This is NO LONGER ABOUT ME. I am here to see God and worship and serve Him. What I need is to know Him. Forget my feelings. I need to know His true nature and character and word.”
Feelings come and go. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Listen to Jesus very carefully, as He talks to the Father about the subject we are discussing. This is my paraphrase of the text above, John 17:25-26:
O Father, You are so much better than anyone or anything in this world and the people in this world are so wrong about You. But I truly know You. And My followers understand now that You sent Me here. And I have come to reveal Your real character and nature to them, and I will keep on doing this since there’s no end to Your glorious perfections. As they come to see You and know You as You truly are, they will begin to more powerfully experience Your love. Yes, for You love them with the exact same love that You love Me.
Pursue knowing God as He has revealed Himself in Christ. Don’t pursue feelings of love and acceptance. As you see Him as He truly is, that is, in truth, as His word is revealed to You, you will begin to be captured by the glory of His divine Person. Perhaps the grandest of all His qualities is His love.
But even God’s deepest love cannot be understood apart from His other attributes, like holiness and justice. The Cross of Jesus was not God’s plan “B”. It was (and continues to be) the climax of God’s progressive unfolding of His nature to a world blinded by the self-focus of sin.