June 15, 2009
by David Carl
The best questions to ask often have surprising answers. This is especially true in the Christian life. Much of Christianity is counterintuitive, even upside down from "common sense." For instance, God's Word states that it is better for one "to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). This idea is not one that any of us would have come up with on our own. To be first in the kingdom of God, one must become last and a servant of all (Mark 9:35). Now that seems just . . . well . . . wrong. The truth is that it is deep truth from the source of truth: the Word of God. This is the kind of thing that will begin to transform us if we believe it, act on it, and hang on for the ride. So here comes another confusing truth.
In the article “Morality Is Not the Point,” I asked you to think of ways to love God better. I promised I'd give you what I came up with—here it is. The best way to learn to love God more is to not try to love God more. It's one of those upside down things. If you just were to bear down and tell yourself to love God more, maybe read the Bible more and attend yet another small group, you would end up knowing more about the Bible and maybe gain ground on some other issues, but the "loving God more" thing would still feel elusive and frustrating. Why? Because you can't transform your own heart. It's like trying to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps. To compound the problem, when you try to change your own heart, any progress you think you've made will create a subtle pride, which will actually move you away from loving God more. I know . . . it'll make you nuts just thinking about it!
So how then do we come to love God more? I would propose that we do a few things, all at the same time. Let's admit our inability to change our own hearts, and then let's call out to God in weakness and pray that He will give us the love we need. The work of the Holy Spirit transforms us; therefore, we must surrender to God for transformation. It is His work, not ours.
Next (but at the same time), I suggest you embark on a journey of exploration and discovery. You are not Magellan looking for new continents; you are an awestruck lover seeking all the ways God loves you. As you move through your life, hunt for amazing sunsets and allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the extravagance of God's artistry. A beautiful sunset is an unnecessary display. God could make the sun set without beauty—simply letting the sky go dark—but that's not what He does. He makes sunsets breathtaking and short-lived. We should look at such a thing and recognize it as a gift from a loving Father to His children. Embrace it. Be humbled by the enormity of the gift.
The more we allow our hearts to be loved by God, the more our hearts will be transformed and our love for Him will surge. It's the nature of a loving relationship. Love begets love, and love begins with God. Our love grows and becomes more Christlike only by our surrender to His love. The twilight sky is a great place to start observing His love, but don't stop with sunsets. What about gazing at the wonder of a baby, the gift of good friends, or the beauty of good music? I believe that real beauty, untainted by sin, comes directly from God. Beauty is given to draw us to Him, to remind us of Him, and to lead us into amazement of Him. Recognizing natural beauty is a natural way to love God more.
The answer to the second question—"How do we get our kids to love God more?"—is the same as the answer above. We as parents need to be on this journey of discovering God's love through the beauty of His creation, and we need to take our kids by the hands as we go. Point out the sunsets, the snowcapped mountains, the sound of the waves, and the nests full of sparrow chicks. Don't allow these things to just be interesting; make them reasons to worship God. Be certain that your kids think about them as gifts from an extravagant, loving Father. The natural but miraculous result will be hearts that love God more.