Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Loving God with All Our Soul




God sees so much more than we do.  Sometimes we forget that.  We don’t see like God does, so there are times we wonder where he is.  But God does see every obedient act done in secret, each prayer uttered in the privacy of our closet, and all the places where his people have selflessly given themselves to love and compassion.  We have a need to see God’s glory.  We need to not just see the muck of the world in all its awful muckiness; we equally need a newfound sense of God’s wonder and beauty, to reclaim the soul of Christianity.

            To love God with all my soul means the deepest parts of my life are flooded with God’s glory, awed by His majesty, mystery, and beauty.  We are to perceive the glory and wonder of God that is all around us.  It is to be thankful, deeply thankful for everything – even for the personal hardship and suffering that I face.  I’m thankful for it because it is one means by which I can better know God and see His glory.  Peter said, Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you (1 Peter 4:12-14).

            Apart from Christ we don’t see this perspective, we don’t see the world as it is; we only see the world as we are (and so we think that how we understand things is the way things really are or, at least, should be).  Being full of God’s glory makes life, even if it is hard, wonderful because then we see with spiritual perception.  The human eye can only perceive light waves between 0.000004 and 0.000007 centimeters long.  In other words our visual range is the equivalent of one playing card on a stack of cards stretching halfway across the universe.  But God sees the entire range of light, and to love God with all our soul is to see life and reality from His perception of things.

            The best way to cultivate a love for God with all my soul and see His beauty is to meditate on Scripture and on creation.  Literally take time to smell the roses.  If you walk or drive the same route every day, make a commitment each day to see one thing you have never seen before.  Then, praise God for it.  What is more, every one of us has the privilege and opportunity to read or listen to God’s Word every day.  It needs to be as much of a routine as getting out of bed.  Each time you open your bible, determine to read it slowly and carefully seeing one thing in Scripture that you have never seen before.  Then, praise God for that perception.

We don’t just need a little soul in our love for God; we are to love God with all of our souls (Mark 12:30).  Middle class white people with Northern European ancestry (my church) are not known for their soul.  There is no Dutch Soul Food restaurant anywhere that I am aware of.  I have never seen a German-American Hip-Hop Club.  Maybe it is time to change the perception that we Christians have no soul.  Let’s not try and domesticate this very basic command of Scripture to love God with all our souls.  Yes, it may look different for us than some other people, but it is no less a command.  We ought to be so filled with God’s glory and wonder that we unashamedly raise our hands in praise, fall on our knees in prayer and adoration, and chatter all the time about Jesus – Deuteronomy 6:7 says to talk about God and his commands when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  We are to be excited about living for God because God wants us to love Him with lots of flavor!

What moves your soul to action?  David Platt, a pastor in Birmingham, Alabama once spent ten days in China.  His plan was to move around the country, but he first visited some local house church leaders.  He never went anywhere else in the country.  They were supposed to meet for a short bible study.  Instead, it turned into a ten day 8-12 hour a day teaching of Scripture.  After that first day the Chinese leaders asked David Platt:  “Would you be willing to teach us about all the books of the Old Testament while you are here?”  Pastor Platt laughed and said, “All the Old Testament?  That would take a long time.”  Here was their collective response:  “We will do whatever it takes.  Most of us are farmers, and we work all day, but we will leave our fields unattended for the next couple of weeks if we can learn the Old Testament.”

The hunger for God by many around the world is huge and immense.  They love God with all their soul to the point of doing whatever it takes to know God better and live for Him.  For too many of us, we are conditioned to simply give God our scraps – some of our discretionary income; whatever time we might have left-over from our work and other activities; showing up for church if it doesn’t conflict with something else, as if God were our pet that we just give the table scraps. 

Will you do whatever it takes to love God with all your soul?  Do you perceive and see the grace of God all around you?

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