Sunday, October 30, 2005

Uncool Religious Fanatics

"God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."

That, according to researchers, is a commonplace belief among American youth, and I believe, Americans of all ages.

At first glance, this belief answers the question, “How religious does a person have to be to be okay with God?” The fear lurking in many hearts is that we don’t want to be one of those weird religious fanatics. We like to be cool about life, and we figure God is pretty much like us, and so he is pretty cool. He doesn’t make demands, which is very uncool in most relationships—a quick turnoff. He is happy when we turn in his direction, and secure in himself when we don’t. He understands that life is tough, and we have a lot of things on our minds. And so, as long as we believe in him, try to be decent, and pray to him now and then especially when we are in a squeeze, God is satisfied.

If God was love challenged, that might be the case.

Look at it this way. Suppose you fell romantically in love with someone. You thought about that person constantly. You found infinite pleasure in being with them. Would you be okay with a casual relationship? Would you be okay with that person ignoring you most of the time?

Or suppose you were a parent and had given all of your love to a child for 18 years. Would you be okay if your child left home and showed little interest in calling home or reading your letters or showing up for family gatherings?

No, devoted love wants devoted love in return.

And so it is with God. He really does love you with a love more intense than any human love. And he really does want to have a relationship with you. And he really does want your love in return. Jesus said the most important commandment of God is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). The reason God has given this command is that’s the way he loves you.

It’s not just about religion. It’s about relationship. It’s about love. It’s about priorities. God is not satisfied with taking second place to any other love, whether it is career, money, stuff, family. All of these must take second place to our love for him.