Challenge Central: a CBC devotional
By: Pastor Lars Janssen
Have you ever been in love?
You know what I mean when I say in love, right? It’s that giddy feeling of light-hearted bliss each time the object of your love is near. It’s an exciting and somewhat intoxicating feeling. When we’re in love, we find the object of our love to be very lovely. And if we’re honest in our thinking, we can be in love with more than just people. Sometimes we feel this way about activities, things, ideas, and even seasons—at least for a while. We may, in fact, look ahead to the coming year hoping to find this feeling.
Whether entering a new job, a new relationship, or a new year with the same ingredients as last year, hoping for satisfaction from some lovely part of creation will leave you hollow. In his book, The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis talks about Need-love, which is expressed when a lover recognizes his own incompleteness. This kind of love is an essential part of our human experience. That’s why the romance and advertising industries are so successful. We express Need-love toward what we feel completes us. The media industry simply appeals to our human desire to love and be loved by something lovely. But God’s love is different.
The Apostle John tells us twice that “God is love.” In 1 John 4:7-21, he explains that God “sent His Son,” that He “abides in us,” that He “has given us of his Spirit,” and that “He first loved us.” All of these action statements express what Lewis called Gift-love, which is a love that overflows from abundant fulness. It’s a love that gives and requires nothing in return. God perfectly embodies this kind of love. He needs nothing and has everything to give, so He can give without limit.
Our Need-love collides with God the Father’s Gift-love in Revelation 2:4 when Jesus confronts the Ephesian church (and by extension us). He says, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” The excitement of being in love with any part of creation is a passing shadow of the satisfaction found only in our Heavenly Father’s love. No person, activity, thing, idea, or season can satisfy human incompleteness. The Father alone provides the endlessly deep Gift-love that can fill us up and satisfy our needs. God’s love—both experienced and expressed—is necessary for us to thrive in a new year that will likely bring challenges, needs, and blessings.
So let’s not waste our time with cheap substitutes this year, no matter how appealing they seem at first. The only way to be truly in love is to be in Christ because “God is love.” He has promised that He will pour His love into us and through us because of who He is (See John 17, especially verses 23 and 26!).
Let’s praise our God and spend time with Him! Let’s read and hear His Word often. Let’s sing, pray, laugh, and cry with our Father and His children—our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s talk about His loveliness. Let’s express our need for Him.
Here’s your challenge, Central: Let’s fall in love with the Lovely One again and again.
“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16