Jesus may still love you, but do you love Jesus?

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“I can do whatever, I sin daily and Jesus still loves me.” Hannah Brown, the current season’s Bachelorette and self-proclaimed Christian, stated this in a preview for an upcoming episode. Luke Parker, one of the guys competing for her this season, has stated that while he is not a virgin, he is now committed to waiting until marriage for sex. And that was part of her response during what is being perceived as judgmental comments from Luke regarding her sexual decisions.

I knew early on there would be attempts to desensitize people to sex outside of marriage. To not only normalize it but also paint a picture of what the type of people that decides to wait until marriage for sex look like. There was Colton Underwood- the inexperienced virgin. Not that he was honoring God and his commandments regarding the marriage bed but that he waiting for love. I could go on a tangent about how those should be one in the same, but I’ll digress for now. Now we have Hannah- one who proclaims her faith often; one who has admitted she is not a virgin, which is fine. It’s what follows that I struggle with most.

There is a difference between not being perfect and blatantly sinning.

When we talk about the grace of God and His love for us, do we actually know what that means? God’s grace doesn’t demand perfection but His salvation does default to obedience. It was never designed to be a free pass to sin. It’s this nonchalant attitude- it’s this taking advantage mentality that makes me so sad. How would we feel if our spouse treated us the way we treat Jesus?

“Because I know she’ll still love me, I’ll cheat on her…”
“Because I know he’ll forgive me, I’ll flirt a little…”

Our hearts would break as we realize our spouse couldn’t really love us and feel that way, act that way. So what are we doing in our relationships with Christ?

“True love for God means obeying his commands…” 1 John 5:3

“Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…” 1 John 2:4

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2

How are we showing God we love Him?

I think we are quick to justify because something in us knows we are wrong. We know we messed up. But we know condemnation comes from the devil and that is what Jesus freed us from. So we fight back because we don’t want to feel condemned.

We know we aren’t perfect but the difference between Christians and non-Christians lies in our love.

As Christians, we’ve experienced the love of Christ and that love compels us to do nothing but attempt to love Christ back. Have you all noticed how easy it is to love others who consistently love us? When we don’t attempt to love Christ back, it makes me question whether or not we’ve truly experienced Christ’s love and realize what we’ve be rescued from. I’m not talking about hell right now. I’m talking about being rescued from our own selfishness and sin- our flesh. We are no match for the devil in our own strength but Christ, through the Holy Spirit, not only convicts us but helps us to overcome. That is why it is crucial we don’t throw out our convictions for the sake of ridding ourselves of condemnation.

Hannah argues that “your faith is something personal and a relationships and it’s not to judge others.” And she is right… to an extent. If you are to read the Bible in its entirety, you will see that that God judges but He also forgives, that Christians aren’t to judge but we are to hold each other accountable. On the surface, it may seem contradictory but as a whole it tells a beautiful love story.

“It’s all washed and if the Lord doesn’t judge me and it’s all forgiven, then no other man, woman… anything can judge me,” Hannah continues. Jesus does wash away our sins, but these common words surrounding being washed by Jesus’ blood comes at the critical crossover of accepting Christ’s love AND full repentance*. Unfortunately, the repentance part is often left out, thus resulting in the majority of American culture claiming to be Christian with no evidence thereof.

*The Hebrew the term (chazar b’t’shuvah) refers to turning back to God (and away from sin). You move. You change directions. You don’t continue your same patterns, same decisions. There is distinct action that follows a true repentant heart. It involves both a change of mind and a turning from sin.

The beauty of Christianity is the extent of the unfathomable love the Creator of the universe has for His children. But that love was never meant to be abused or taken advantage of. It’s impossible to say we believe and not change; it’s impossible to accept His love and not act. When we truly experience the love He has for us, we can’t help but love Him back. Jesus’ love would result in a one-sided relationship otherwise; without our love for Him, the love story never comes to fruition, resulting in eternal separation from the love that was once so easily accessible.

“For this is how much God loved the world- He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life.” –John 3:16 TPT

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*** 1 John is an excellent book of the Bible to study this concept more in depth. Here are a few of the passages I referenced with more context:

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is God’s spiritual child and has been fathered by God himself. And everyone who loves Father God loves his children as well. This is how we can be sure that we love the children of God: by having a passionate love for God and by obedience to his commands. True love for God means obeying his commands, and his commands don’t weigh us down as heavy burdens…” -1 John 5:1-3 TPT

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2: 2-6 ESV

“You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:5-10 ESV

 

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What taking a year off dating taught me

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I never realized the impact the ‘No Guys in 2018’ commitment I made would have on my life. There is something liberating about going against the grain. While most single females in their early thirties are focusing on the fact that their biological clocks are ticking, it’s not exactly the norm to quietly exit the dating scene. But I did. And I can say quite confidently, it has been one of the best decisions of my life.

It forced me to spend time on what I really wanted. What’s really important to me as an individual, by myself. Instead of going out with multiple guys in case he was “the one,” the commitment gave me the confidence to say no to the guys I already wanted to say no to. Guys I would have been afraid to say no to in the past. I wish I could say it was courage, but I’m not sure I can call it that when I was somewhat hiding behind a wall of “I’m taking a year off of dating” rather than simply saying “I’m not interested at this time.” It’s as if we feel we owe people an explanation of why we aren’t interested. But do we? Can’t we just say we aren’t interested without opening up insecurities and self-doubt? I wish we could. But I think we feel guilty for saying no. We don’t want the other person to feel less than so we attempt to justify. Instead of realizing someone may simply not be the one person we are supposed to marry, we equate it to something being wrong with us- not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, attractive enough. So we either make excuses for rejecting them or we go out with them “just in case.” The latter is how I spent my 20’s. Trusting that God would do his part. But adamant that I had to do my part.

If I were to remain single, at least I could say I tried.

For the longest time I tried to fix my behavior. Questioning something must be wrong with me if I’m not married yet while so many of my friends were celebrating anniversaries. I didn’t see singleness as a punishment, but more so a training ground to prepare me for who I was to be with. And it frustrated me thinking I was still perhaps not good enough or that I was simply too picky. It had to be one or the other.

But I think it had more to do with me, independent of any relationship. My identity. Ensuring my identity was in Christ alone, separate from an identity tied to a relationship, especially when two are supposed to become one. I have always longed for completeness that was independent from anything in this world. To be not only content, but joyful regardless of my circumstances, whatever season of life I was in. Complete in Christ. But how can that occur fully if so much of my energy centered on inviting another in in an attempt to feel whole? To say that I have achieved the next milestone? That I’m not behind and my timeline aligns with societal norms?

It took me a few months after the year was over to realize and understand just how much I had changed. How much I had grown. I’ve always had high standards when it came to relationships. Convictions that led most of my decisions. Relationships surfacing if marriage seemed like a possibility. Dating was the necessary means to that end- the end being marriage. So while my standards were high for relationships, my standards for dating were significantly less. Dating “just in case” is what I focused on while in my 20’s. My time, energy, conversations, thoughts revolved around my dating life. Dating occurring with not only guys I was simply attracted to, but guys I wasn’t attracted to “just in case” they had good hearts. This resulted in dating numerous guys and few actual relationships. On the surface this sounds normal. Expected. But I was dating potential. Not dating intentionally, decisively, or wisely.

I was living in the hopes of what if rather than in the reality of what is.

I’ve come to realize what making the most of your single life really means when not lived out intentionally. When lived with no concern for the future, and perhaps, most importantly, with no concern for others. We call these years the sowing of wild oats. Living without real responsibility yet. Shying away from commitments. A revolving door of who can feed my ego the most next. But what has really taught us?

We become dependent. We believe any man is better than no man. We can say we disagree with that statement but our actions often show otherwise. Compromising. Justifying. Believing any man is actually better than no man to pacify the fear of being alone. 
This behavior causing us to settle when we decide we are ready to actually settle down now. Oh, the irony. I’ve learned that how you spend your single years, has a direct impact on how much you are willing to settle.

The level of desire determines how far you are willing to compromise.

If you plan your life, career, education, community involvement around a potential family, discontentment will fester until you satisfy what you’ve laid the foundation for. If you live based on what you’ve been given and pursue dreams outside of a potential family, it’s easier to stay true to standards you’ve set for yourself. It’s as if some of us feel we can’t truly start our lives until our spouse enters the picture. And as a result, we miss out on some of the best years of our life.

As my time was spent more on knowing myself, more on knowing God, God Himself began to fill that void in a way I hadn’t known before. God has always been in my heart since I was little and first got saved but I wouldn’t say He completely filled it. I think when He does our desires go from “God and…” to simply “God.” I think it is then when we reach a deeper level of intimacy. Marriage and family so easily viewed as our purpose rather than as a complement to it. Those desires so strong, you know God wouldn’t deprive you. But over time, feeding those desires until they become an idol rather than giving them back to God and allowing Him to fulfill the true desires of our heart once we surrender.

To those married, embrace the beauty in two becoming one as you both fulfill your God-given purpose here on earth. For those still single, wait until you meet someone who will complement your God-given purpose. Be equally yoked. Keep your high standards and know what you want. If you lower your standards, compromise on what you want, you will no longer be single but you won’t have peace either. You’ll live in inner turmoil, conflicted over what to do, what to say, and how to live the rest of your life. Wait until you love your single life. It is then when you will marry out of love rather than desperation.

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