“I have many servants, but I have fewer lovers.” – God
Holy Spirit whispered this to Carol, our founding pastor, years ago. It has never left my mind since she shared it. When I first got involved in ministry in my mid-twenties I was primarily motivated by true devotion to Jesus. He had given his all for me, I wanted to reciprocate. I was genuinely moved with love for my King.
However, as time went on, my primary motivation changed, subtly. I still was devoted to Jesus but my burning heart had grown cold. I was still serving God in ministry, and based on the evaluations of my bosses and peers, I was doing well. Truth be told though, I had become a servant more than a lover.
What accounted for the shift in my heart?
There was no catastrophic event that led to disappointment with God. It was more of a gradual shift. I noticed that I stopped reading the Bible devotionally. Instead, I was studying it to prepare bible studies and sermons. My personal devotional time with God was replaced with praying about work-related things as part of my “job”. Over time I became familiar with what was expected of me and I had grown in my abilities to do my job. As a result, my awareness of my need for God had diminished. It’s the little foxes …
The greatest danger of falling out of love with God is not falling into sin – although there’s that. The scarier option is embracing the Pharisee spirit. When love isn’t our primary motivator, religiosity, condemnation and hypocrisy rule the day. We invent man-made rules to determine how godly we are. We become critical of those who don’t meet our standards. Behaviour modification becomes more important than heart-level transformation. And, we reproduce after our own kind.
This is scary because Jesus reserved his harshest words for people like that. He referred to them as hypocrites and white-washed tombs, who looked godly on the outside but were polluted on the inside. Such people he said would not be justified before God. Do you recognize people like that?
The way back to love
Here is how I am finding my way back to love-motivated living – and staying there:
- I ask Jesus to forgive me for my cold-hearted service. He deserves more.
- I repent by being alert for my propensity toward performance-orientation. Why do I lean towards finding value and significance from what I do rather than who I am in Christ?
- I constantly remind myself, and God, of my absolute need for him.
- I keep asking Holy Spirit to fill my heart with God’s love and I express my affection back to him.
- I try to be obedient to his voice in my life.
If you have no fire in your heart for Jesus, don’t panic! Try these five steps. God will meet you; you’ll see what happens!