RELIGION COLUMN: The reserved place of worshipful love

Published 9:57 am Monday, March 31, 2014

By Jake McCall

In John 3:16, the Apostle John records what is most likely the most famous sentence in all of history when Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This same Apostle John later said, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15).

That was written just a few lines after John tells us to make sure that we are loving our brother. In one instance, Jesus tells us to “love our enemies” (Matthew 5:44) and in another, tells us that in order to be his disciples we must hate our mother, father, wife, children and siblings (Luke 14:26). So how do we make sure we properly love according to Christ while also properly not love? Can we actually love someone enough and can we love someone too much?

I believe that it comes down to this: Is your love for this world and the things in this world driven by your love for Christ, or in competition with your love for Christ? Now there are obviously some things that Christ will not give us a love for, such as sinful behavior, money, fame, etc. (1 John 2:16). Yet, there are other things that God will give us a love for and he will increase our love for those things: family, neighbors, enemies, and even created things are things that God would intend for us to love, and our love for others is even a test for our faith.

But do these things compete with our Lord? There is a certain part of our hearts that is specifically reserved for worship, and everything in our hearts fights to get to that reserved space. It is as if everything that takes up residence in our hearts desperately desires to be worshipped. And when we let something besides God take up space in that reserved place of our hearts, we push God out into another area. It is not that we actively stop loving God, but we do stop loving him with worshipful love because we are giving our worshipful love to something else. This is idolatry.

Good and honorable things are fighting for our worshipful love, and when we worshipfully love those things, the love of the Father is not in us. God calls us to evict all other things from that reserved space because though they beg for it, they are not worthy of our worship. And the great news is that when we actively place God in that reserved space, God will enlarge our hearts in other areas so that we can love more and with greater intensity, all while giving our full worship to our worthy King.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church. His column appears each Thursday.