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« Your Mental Relationship: Jesus as Wisdom | Main | Your Leadership Relationship: Jesus as Lord »

Your Affection Relationship: Jesus as the Lover of Your Soul

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”  (Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor.)  The Bible indicates that God would rather you hate Him, persecute Him or fight Him than be indifferent to Him.  He called it being “lukewarm.” “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.” Revelation 3:15. God can take a zealot’s hatred and convert it to intense love as He did in turning Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul, but He despises indifference.  The bottom line is that God wants your loveJesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.This is the first and great commandment. Matthew 22:37-38.

Nothing is more personal than your love life.  Your Christian convictions can influence your money, career, legal status, leadership, and more, but when it comes to who or what you love, it gets serious.  But, this is as it should be.  If God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, then we should be prepared to surrender to Him our closest and most intimate feelings. 

Total Investment 

How much did it cost Jesus to save you?  Incalculable.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8. We state it this way because the one significant measure by which we evaluate the worth of a relationship is the amount invested.  Willingness to die for someone signifies total investment.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:7-8.  An old anthem of the church says, “I love Him, I love Him, because He first loved me; and purchased my salvation on Calvary.” 

Calvary represents the culmination of our salvation’s cost, but the full picture of Christ’s love for the church encompasses even more than the cross.  It started before the foundation of the world.  Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.  1 Peter 1:18-20.  The unbroken crimson stream flows from Genesis to Revelation.  “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16. The entirety of the Scriptures testify of Jesus and His relationship with the Church.  His is a forever love. 

God desires reciprocity.  If He gave everything for you, then it is only right that your love for Him should rise to the same level.  He wants no flirtations, aficionados, dilettantes, or mere acquaintances.  He wants your heart. But God be thanked that …  you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. Romans 6:17. 

An Exclusive Relationship 

The monogamous template for marriage that we find in the Bible reflects God’s value system.  He created us with both the inclination and the capacity to have an intimacy that is so deep, so private and so meaningful that it cannot possibly be shared with another.  We speak of it in terms of “my one and only,” “the love of my life,” or “my soulmate.”  It is the one person we want to be closer to than anyone else on the planet.  For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:7-8. That level of intimacy precludes a similar kind of relationship with any third person.  In the same way, God wants you for Himself alone.  

This attribute of God led him to place a severe curse on the sin of adultery.  The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10. Why is adultery more egregious than other sins?  Because adultery stems from a traitorous heart, disrespect for one’s spouse, contempt for the marriage vows and a lack of understanding.  Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.  Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away. Proverbs 6:32-33.  Entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ carries the same weight as taking the vows of marriage.  Christianity must be seen as an exclusive choice, not an alternative belief system or a social expediency.  Jesus is your soulmate.

Guard Your Heart Against Rival Suitors 

In light of Christ’s total investment in you and His desire for an exclusive relationship, be alert to wavering or to any challenges to your commitment to Him.  In our imperfect flesh, we are subject to temptation, emotional fatigue and wandering thoughts.  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:9-10.  Remember, no relationship goes untested.  Invariably, something or someone will challenge your love for Christ. 

The source of the challenge could be Satan himself.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9.  Make no mistake, however, about the deceptive nature of the devil.  Sans horns and pitchfork, he appears as an angel of light sporting promises that seem far more pleasurable than you presently have in Jesus.  His lies are incredibly believable.  So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9. Be assured, however, that Satan cannot penetrate the covering you have in the blood of Christ.  He can only, by deceit and lies, lure you out from under that covering. 

Other people can also pry your grip loose from God if you allow them to do so.  Humans tend to identify with other humans, even those who are hostile to Christ.  Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8. Family, associates and close friends exert a powerful influence on us.  Through weakness, we may succumb to their wishes in hope of their approval and support.  Pitfalls like these open up when we drift into carnality and our spirituality wanes. 

Therefore, you need to walk in the Spirit, immersing yourself in the Word of God, and defending your mind with a full understanding of salvation, faith, righteousness and truth as Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12-18.  Consistent, daily prayer keeps these defenses active.  It is only as you remain aware of your weaknesses that you can stay strong.  Do not boast of your personal strength.  God’s reply to Paul in the midst of the apostle’s weakness was, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. 

Love Your Neighbor 

Your relationship with Jesus Christ affects your interpersonal relationships with all others.  Jesus reiterated the Mosaic law when He said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40.  You cannot hate others and love Christ at the same time.  Again, Jesus makes this truth abundantly clear.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44. 

The Apostle John camps on this truth.  If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:20-21.  Some have excused prejudice, discrimination, partiality and hatred as somehow honoring the laws of God.  Such feelings are mired in the depths of deception and perversion.  Prejudice against anyone, whether a brother or not, and whether due to race, skin pigmentation, nationality, disability or socioeconomic status, cannot be defended for any reason.  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:25-27.  Jesus Himself, as a Jew, belonged to a minority and often persecuted sect.  For anyone to justify discrimination and yet claim allegiance to Christ is the height of hypocrisy.  It is, rather, the exact opposite that proves our relationship to Christ.  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 1 John 5:2.

Equal Yokes 

In the context of loving Jesus, we must also weigh our relationship with others, especially one with whom we consider marriage or even a business partnership.  This law is found in typology in the Old Testament.  You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. Deuteronomy 22:10. The obvious reason is that the two animals differ in nature, strength and temperament.  They will work against each other.  If you have a mindset to serve Christ, you do yourself a major disservice to marry or partner with someone who is antagonistic to God, or even indifferent to Him.  Those who have tried it have forfeited the beauty of unity in order to satisfy their carnal desires or their self-will.  

Approach a marriage proposal or all prospective unions with your relationship with Christ uppermost in your mind.  Absolutely nothing should eclipse the importance of Jesus Christ in your life.  You would be wise to never begin a relationship if there is doubt about the desire or intent of the person in question.  The Apostle Paul spells out the reasoning behind this truth to the Corinthians.  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-16.  In my many years of pastoral service, I have seen too many naïve or disobedient Christians try to prove the Apostle Paul, and their pastor, wrong.  Without fail, they have either lost their relationship with God or they have severely crippled their effective Christian witness or potential ministry.  Those who have entered into business partnerships with unbelievers soon regretted their venture.  Difficulties arise with the closest of friends; how much harder is it to head in totally different directions in life?  Your relationship with Christ should set the parameters for all other relationships.

Love Not the World 

The world around us remains one of the most relentless adversaries that fights against our union with Christ.  With its sights and sounds, its beauties and pleasures, its promises of fame and fortune, it presents itself as a nearly irresistible influence in our lives.  Two aspects of this influence should alarm us: 1) the excitement it holds and, 2) the evil it possesses.  The Apostle John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-16. 

The deleterious effects of the world on a Christian poses a solemn reason why we should not love the world.  For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica.  2 Timothy 4:10. Demas, evidently, was enamored with the styles, fashions and trends of first century culture.  While the Scripture hints that he recovered from his mistake, it probably left regrettable scars on his life, not to mention the void in his ministry caused by the hiatus.  Moreover, the “things in the world” offer fleeting pleasure at best. They will not last. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10. To love the world is to sacrifice eternity for time, fullness for emptiness, joy for fun and the true love of Jesus for the false friendship of the world.  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4. 

A solid, impermeable relationship with Jesus secures you with the One who loves you more than anyone else in the world.  You cannot hope for a greater position or feeling here or in eternity.   Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God …  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:1-2. 

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