Our walk with Jesus starts small and then it matures. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.
As the Apostle Paul writes, “when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Paul, of course, was not talking merely about children. Rather, he was saying that when we’re born again, we too must grow up into what God has prepared for us.
When healthy children grow into adults, they don’t just change in shape and size. Their personalities transform as well. They start to see things with more complexity and they think and relate to people differently. And so just like a child growing up, baby believers in Jesus must do likewise. They must learn to relate to Jesus on a far deeper level than when they were spiritual infants. They must go from craving milk to desiring solid food.
Many Christians Are Like the Child That Never Grows Up
Imagine you have a child who gets older physically, but never matures into knowing and appreciating you for who you are. So at age 5 your son would ask you for a cookie or a toy, and he listened when he was afraid of a spanking. But he never wanted to spend time with you.
You figured this was normal but hoped that as he got older things would eventually change. But they didn’t. Flash forward to age 15. Your child is bigger, a lot more independent, but still, he has no desire to spend time with you, that is, unless you’re doing something he specifically asked you to do for him. Sure, he’ll listen to you to avoid punishment. Or to get that reward you promised him. But he has no real grasp of your wisdom, your character, your loyalty, or your profound and steadfast devotion to him.
And as the decades go by, nothing changes. It’s as if he’s relationally color blind and sees everything you do for him in monochrome. Even at 35, he still looks to you as a means to his own ends. You’re his wallet, his comforter, or his good luck charm. He stares longingly at your hand. But somehow, never looks up to see your face.
Welcome to the modern Christian. How many of us beg God for His hand? But we never seek His face. We ask Jesus for help, but have no true desire to know His personhood. And so we feel vaguely guilty but don’t know what else to do about it. Perhaps, we never even realized that this way of relating to God is not what God intended for us.
And the modern church has no answers. The reason is because many of the pastors feel exactly the same way! They have no idea what it means to relationally abide in Jesus, other than to try to win more souls or overcome more obstacles or to get more for church programs. The personhood of God is something kept for songs before the sermon. But it’s rarely preached on in a relatable manner.
So now that we see the problem, what can we do about it?
The Greatest of All Commandments Is About a Mature Relationship with God
If you don’t see this as a real problem: Consider what the Bible says here.
God is not some Vegas slot machine made to cater to our many whims. God is holy. God is all powerful, God is eternal and far greater than His creations. And yet God is slow to anger, quick to forgive, and steadfast in His devotion. Our Lord is creative. He is humble, and He is wise. He is compassionate, and His plans are separate from our plans; His plans are far better and beyond what ours ever could be!
So we are to love Him simply because He is worthy of our love. Just the same way as a devoted spouse or trusted friend is also worthy of our love. Therefore, is it any surprise that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength? It shouldn’t be. Elsewhere, Scripture also commands us to delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. So the Lord actually does provide a benefit to loving and delighting in Him.
But guess what? It’s not all about you. It’s about Jesus. And this is what the churches often miss. Your self-actualization is not God’s game plan. And like a child who learns to truly love his parent, we must learn to love Jesus simply because of who He is. While it’s OK as a young Christian to delight in the Lord because you want a benefit. God is not our co-pilot. God is King! Eventually, the Lord takes our actions and matures us so we will actually want to delight in Him because of who of He is, rather than what He does for us. But like with anything else, we must practice these things.
We Know How To Relate To God Based on Our Earthly Relationships
God is spirit. And yet God can be loved. If this were not so, why would He tell us to love Him? Now you might think that the way to love God is simply to start doing good deeds. But this is totally off the mark. God spells love the same way that your spouse and kids do. Love is spelled T-I-M-E. We spend time with those we love. Not just quality time, but QUANTITY.
We also praise those we love…not just for what they did for us, but because of their over-arching character and wonderful qualities. In addition, we show love for others when we get to know them, or when we take the time to ask them about how they feel on things.
With God, we do this not just through prayer, but by actively reading the Bible to see who He is, what He’s done, what He desires, and how He lovingly brings these things about. We also praise Him, not just for things done in the distant past, or things He did for us yesterday, but also for His personhood. This is seeking God’s face not his hand. And it’s something we need to step into. Even if it’s a bit awkward at first.
For more on how to get started, see the blogs below on the practical steps you can take to Love God, cultivate gratitude and delight yourself in the Lord!
What Does Maturing in Jesus Look Like?
Is there a litmus test we can use to see if we are growing up or simply fooling ourselves?
Praising The Lord And Making It Real!
Tired of forcing yourself to have a praise life?
Here’s how to spice things up a bit!
Freeing Up Quality Time For The Creator Of The Universe
Why we need prayer time and what to do with it.
How to carve out time during our daily routines.
A Few Bread Crumbs Please (Why We Have No Fruit)
Why we need to spend quality time with our Lord and what does it mean?
Your My Cornerstone (Zach Williams & TobyMac)
First Things First (Consumed By Fire)