I NEVER MEANT TO STOP loving Jesus. In fact, until he showed me that I had, or quite possibly that I never did really love him, but rather I loved the things he did for me, I would have bet my life I loved him.
My life changed for the better after I met Jesus.
So, who wouldn’t love a person who made their life better?
Didn’t I choose to follow his commandments because I loved him?
Or was it because when I followed his commandments I stayed out of the ditch?
Did I get involved with my church because I loved Jesus or did I get involved because I loved the people I served with and believed in the good work we did?
One time I wrestled with the Lord for a year about selling my house, even though he had clearly instructed me to do so. Finally I obeyed, figuring it was my Isaac experience; you know the story about Abraham who, in the eleventh hour did not have to sacrifice the son he so dearly loved.
Trying to help God ensure the result I wanted, I priced my house very high. Otherwise, it would have sold quickly, and I could not believe God really wanted me to lose what he had unquestionably given me.
A year later, on a Saturday afternoon, I told my listing agent that I would not entertain the low offer that he received that day, nor would I counter with anything less than full price. Furthermore, I would not accept full price unless the seller could remove the contingency that allowed him to sell his current home before purchasing mine. “And by the way,” I said to my agent, “I’m taking the house off the market Monday morning.”
Who among my friends would not see the sacrifice I had made the prior year while I endured countless prospects touring my home? Who would not say I loved Jesus as much as anyone on the planet to be willing to go to such lengths? Who would not count this as righteous and faithful, as I passed the test of obedience to God?
I was so proud of myself that Sunday night after speaking directly with the persistent prospect, who called to discuss the matter and to let me know he and his wife had prayed about it, and they believed they were supposed to buy it. That led to a discussion about faith, and we learned we went to the same large church and both worked in the children’s department but had never met because we worked on different floors. “Too bad,” I said, “One of us obviously got the wrong message from God because I’m taking my house off the market at 10:00 in the morning.”
The test of unconditional love is death.
Anything short of death cannot prove unconditional love.
Anything short of unconditional love is not the love Jesus requires, if the love I have for him is to be counted for anything.
I did not understand this at the time and would not begin to understand it for another decade, but, Jesus is faithful with his dumb sheep and his patience is thankfully remarkable with those of us who try to count our actions as righteous.
The following morning, at about 9:30, I answered a call from the last prospect I ever expected to talk with, and my pride went before the great fall. “I called our children’s minister and she knew your house well, saying you held many church activities there,” he said. “She said if you said your house was worth the asking price, I could trust it to be so, and my wife and I prayed that God would not let us make a mistake. I also have my banker waiting to take a conference call with you to guarantee the sale at your price without any contingencies whatsoever.”
Selling my house is not a noble story about my love for Jesus, nor was it a willing sacrifice. It is a story, however, of God’s almighty power to do for me what I cannot possibly know to do for myself.
It was only the beginning of what I had to learn about Death.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.—Jesus (John 12:24-25)
As always, it is my intent and hope that my words may encourage you wherever you are in your journey.
Where has God proved you wrong about your faith?
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If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.–Jesus(Mark 4:23)