I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what love is - true, unhindered, unending love. Unsurprisingly (and amazingly), God is the only one who can exhibit such a pure form of love, and it is unbearable. Our ancestors that were confronted with this love were unable to stand in the presence of it. When God appeared on the mountain to Jesus, Peter, James, and John in Matthew 17, his declaration of love for Jesus caused the disciples to fall on their faces, for the greatness of it was too much for them to handle. Even as I write this, I am not struck by the full extent of what this means, although I am painfully aware that this is a more amazing reality than any one I’ve fully encountered.
And this brings me to what I’ve been considering. Oftentimes following Christ is sugarcoated by the body of Christ in order to entice people to follow him, and sometimes to convince themselves that he is worth following. We tell ourselves that we should follow all the rules because then we’ll get to heaven, the perfect world. Maybe we’ll even be able to fly in heaven, or see the loved ones that we feel left Earth too early. I am more guilty of this than any of you. But I’ve been realizing, as I learn more and more about Christ, that following him isn’t about the benefits you get, it’s not about the walking on water, the speaking in tongues, or the healing of bodies. You guys, it’s literally just about him. As I get to know Christ, I’m realizing that all I want is him. Heaven is paradise because it is eternity with God, not because we won’t feel pain.
I can’t even think of more to write, because I fall so short in this area. I don’t understand the love of God - I really don’t. But I want to. Some days it’s all I want. And I guess all I’m saying today is that pursuing Christ for Christ is a far more fulfilling practice than chasing the benefits that God appears to offer - I’m speaking from experience.
My greatest prayer for myself, and you as well, is that Christ would be our all-consuming passion. Not just because that’s our identity, what we were made for, but because it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. Following Christ has never been boring, and it’s rarely as hard as we seem to believe. Dying for Christ (an extreme example, I realize) no longer becomes one’s greatest fear, but an opportunity to joyously demonstrate how much we love our Creator. I leap at the opportunity to demonstrate how much I love God, and because eternity is my reality, there is nothing that can stand in the way of me and my sweet Jesus. Of course, I’m still human and sinful in this body, so that is perhaps a lofty understanding. But what isn’t lofty is that the same is true of Jesus for us - and he, in his perfection, has the supernatural ability to stop at nothing before we are his.
Following Jesus is like living out the greatest love story ever told - one that transcends the start of the universe, and defines the reason for our very existence. We look to Nicholas Sparks or beautiful movies to satisfy our desire for romantic adventures, but God is the greatest one there is. How I wish I could be speaking to you in person on this occasion, because I would be simultaneously laughing and crying whilst I speak all of this, because it is becoming my all-consuming reality. That is, that God is the true lover of my soul, and we will stop at nothing to prove our undying love for one another. And my eternity with him doesn’t start once I die - it starts immediately.
So basically what I’m saying is that your love story starts right now. And our love isn’t as distant as we always seem to believe.