In a small group meeting this weekend, I talked about the Theory of the Heart, and I mentioned how one aspect of including our heart in worship is to love God. One of our discussion questions asked how we can fall more in love with God. The answers were your typical Bible study answers: pray, read your Bible more, talk to God, worship. And I heard one member of the group comment, “Man, I wish someone would just give a straight answer.”
The tricky part is this: There is no straight answer. Our love of God is grown and expressed differently for each one of us. A great example of this is our individual love languages, that we each give and want to receive love differently. The difficult part is this: Without a supernatural experience with the living God, you won’t really have a relationship with Him, much less be able to fall in love with Him.
What do I mean by that? Let me ask you this . . . What do we practice in Christianity in our relationship with God that worshipers of false gods don’t practice? Do you pray? So do they. Do you read Scripture? They’ve got theirs. Yeah, but you go to church and worship, right? They may call their houses of worship something else, but it’s really just like going to church.
The key ingredient is this: The true, living, one and only God.
I explained as an encounter, some moment where everything stopped being like it was, and it would forever be changed. I usually tell people that I gave my heart to Christ at the age of six at a kids’ crusade in my home church. But I continued to struggle in my relationship with God, in addition to battling depression and suicidal tendencies. At 14, I went to what we called Sno-Camp, and there I had that experience. Everything made sense; taking the Word of God by faith was a no-brainer; listening for and following His direction were automatic.
Unfortunately, many of us never have that experience. Sure, we go to church Sunday after Sunday, serve in a ministry, and drop an envelope in the offering; but we never really connect with the living God. So we struggle with day to day things more than we should. We cut God out of the equation for so much of our lives that eventually we’ve narrowed Him down to Sunday mornings, for an hour or two, as long as I don’t have anything else going on.
Somehow we’ve got to have that experience with God. Again, the tricky part is that there’s no straight answer. God will meet with you how and when He does. I can’t give you a step-by-step plan to having an encounter with the living God.
I can’t tell you that if you go to church every time the doors are open, you will have an encounter with God. It could happen in your bedroom, or in your car, or over a cup of coffee with a friend. You may not see it coming, but you won’t be able to forget it once it does.
Have you seen the movie Pleasantville? It’s a “Leave it to Beaver” world of picket fences filled with proper and polite people. But when two teens from our world are given a reality check by invading this black and white one, everything changes. As the movie progresses, people, cars, trees, flowers, fruit, and other objects start transforming from grayscale to Technicolor. Some aspect of reality was revealed to these people (for some good, for others not so good), and the resulting change was evident to everyone. No one could deny, and you certainly couldn’t hide it.
Are we locked in a gray world with no hope of seeing in color again? Certainly not. We need our blinders taken off, have the light shone in our darkness, to hear the voice of truth in our lives. Until we do, we’re like the “white-washed walls” that Jesus faced, thinking we’re in the middle of the big game, but sitting on the sidelines.
I do believe, though, there is one key ingredient to this experience. You have to want. And I don’t mean to want it like you want to eat pizza, or go to the football game, or go shoe shopping, or run down to the BOGO sale. You have to really WANT it, so much so that you’re willing to give up, take, say or do whatever you have to do get it.
That’s how you can tell when you’re ready. Nothing could possibly matter as much as this. Songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman calls it a “Magnificent Obsession.” Because in all reality, without it, nothing else matters.