This talk was given during a student-led worship service to an audience of missionaries.
What are some simple things you could do to demonstrate your love to a hypothetical boy or girlfriend?
[chocolate, flowers, a date, etc.]
Isn't it interesting to note that all of these things are actions? As a guy we don't want to be sitting back on a couch, saying, "Oh yeah, I'll give her flowers if she asks me."
No! You want to give her flowers simply because you love her, and you don't need to ask, and you already know what kind she likes.
If a guy said that he loved you and was going to shower you with flowers every day, but then he never did, how long do you think that kind of relationship would last?
So often, and I'm guilty of this, we tell God, "Lord, I'm here for you. I want to follow you. I want to feel you, please show me the way," and then we never back up those statements with action.
Relationships require action.
How many of us have bumped into someone you haven't seen in a while and they're like, "Hey we should toooootally hang out sometime," and you're like, "Yeah we toooootally should!"
But really you know that you're not going to end up hanging out, because their actions in the past said that they had other priorities and were busy with stuff and they were just saying that to be nice. And because of that you don't really want to hang out with them either.
Or maybe they do reach out to you a few days later and you're like, "Wow this person is really intentional and they're thinking of me." That's an action that verifies that they do in fact want to hang out with you.
What are you going to do to demonstrate your love to God?
What are you going to do that verifies your thoughts when you say, "I want to hang out with you, I want to get to know you, I want to learn from you?"
As a disclaimer, this is isn't a question of salvation. Jesus loves everyone, he's saved many... and then there's discipleship, a deepening of your relationship with him.
And discipleship is what I'll be focusing on.
Discipleship requires action.
Read Luke 9:57-62.
Look at those last few verses. "Just give me 5 minutes, Jesus! I'll run back to my parents, say goodbye, and I'll run right back here! I'll follow you! Just let me say goodbye to my parents! What's the harm in that?"
And yet Jesus says that this kind of person is not fit for the kingdom of God. This is a harsh word that we often don't like to hear in our churches.
I'm going to say a provocative statement that may not be theologically sound - but I'm going to say it for the purpose of making you think...
What if God doesn't want disciples who aren't willing to commit?
For the longest time, I've always told God that I wanted to feel him, but then I'd go about my day and wouldn't verify that desire with action. I'd be like, "Oh, sorry God, I've got too much homework - after all, it was your will that I'm at college and I need to go a good job. Hopefully this evening."
And yet all too often in the evening I'm either busy with something else or distracted with stuff and end up going to sleep. I've always been fairly disciplined - though I wouldn't have liked to admit it, it was my priorities that were skewed.
This past semester at college, God opened up my schedule so that I could I could spend almost the entire morning with him every weekday. I was still taking the maximum credits at Seton Hall, and I could have made excuses (and sometimes I did).
But for the most part I decided to act on my belief that my relationship with God was more important than my grades, and that sometimes, I was going to intentionally neglect my homework so that I could grow with God.
And when I finally committed that time to him, I began to hear things that he had been speaking to me all along. If I hadn't committed, I'm not sure I would have heard the life-changing call to missions.
Recently, since being here with YWAM, I'd come to worship and I'd pray, "Alright God, I'm here, I've obeyed. I want to know you more in my heart. Please reveal more of yourself to me. Lord I want to be on fire for you. I want to live with abandon for you..."
And as a visual person I'd imagine myself dancing for him.
"Yeah Lord, I want to dance for you," I'd pray.
And then the next thought that came to my mind was, "Why not dance right now?"
Immediately I'm thinking...
"Dance? Are you kidding?
"How can I dance for you if I don't even feel like it in the first place?
"I can't even dance, I was homeschooled for crying out loud!
"If I dance, people will get distracted in worship, or it'll put the glory on me and make me look like a good Christian, right?
"No Lord, I want to dance for you, but not until after you fill me first."
And yet this stinging thought would linger...
"So you say you want to live with abandon for me, love me, and feel me. You say you want this so bad... but you won't even dance for me? How small a thing is that?
"How badly do you want me, really?"
I fought this for weeks. Then finally, in my desperation, I said, "Fine! I don't want to do this, but I want you more."
I went to the center of the room during worship, asked anyone who was standing around to come join me. I shared my vulnerabilities about dancing with all of you and that I needed help.
And then we threw an awesome dance party to the song, "I'll become even more undignified than this!"
It was so liberating for all of us, we danced and sang and looked like a bunch of happy idiots!
I didn't feel God's presence nor enjoy dancing for him until after I obeyed... not the other way around. Peace often comes after obedience, and rarely before.
If God is a good, good father, he is going to challenge us at our weak points.
"God I'll go live in China for you! But just don't ask me to dance right now!" But God goes right for our weak spots because he restores and strengthens!
I'll leave you all with these last verses from Proverbs 3:11 - 12.
"My child, do not despise discipline from the Lord, and do not loathe his rebuke. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights."
God's love never leaves us. Are you grateful for that? What are you going to do to show that you are grateful for that?