Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Passionate Jealousy

The other day, my daughter and I were talking about having a relationship with Christ and what it means to us. As we were talking, a thought occurred to me and I said to her, “I think the only time it is okay to be selfish is when we are selfish in our relationship towards God. That is the one thing that we can be selfish about.” She agreed, but said that selfish was not the right word to describe it. I was then talking to my best sister in the Lord and she said the word “jealous”. This morning, as I was praying and thinking about those two conversations, I thought about how the Lord is jealous over me. Not jealousy as we humans describe it, but jealous in a holy way. What do I mean? Let me ask you a question, what is the first commandment?
"You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3) But God doesn’t stop there, He goes on to tell us that we should not bow down to any image, (vs. 4) and then, He tells us why. “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Ex. 20:5) I looked up the word jealous, because when I hear the word jealous I don’t exactly think of God- I think of a wife towards her husband, or a girl upset because her boyfriend looked at another girl. But the word “jealous” in this context means, “God...not bearing any rival.” It can also be translated “zeal.”
Did you know that God is jealous for you? Did you know that He is passionately committed to you, He is possessive of you? When the word “jealous” or “zeal” is used to describe God it refers to “His passion for His holy name, a zeal that demands the exclusive devotion of His people.” (Reformation Study Bible) It goes on to say that it is the “intense commitment of God to His people and to His purposes which seeks a passionate and obedient response.” He desires you above all others. And our response should be to desire Him above all others. His love and His passion for you should invoke within our inner man a desire and a passion for Him unlike anything we have ever experienced before. But why passion, why devotion?
I asked the same question this morning and the answer I received was “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) Not only did He create me, give me life, give me breath, but He went one step further to ensure my devotion to Him. He delivered me from the power of sin and death. He has devoted eternity to you and I, and in a “selfish” way we should devote our eternity to Him.
There are many things that I can be passionate about, and many things my time can become devoted to, but the Lord God is asking me today, and perhaps you who are reading this to let go of all that we put between He and I and look upon our whole selves as holy to the Lord, we are property which belongs to Him. I know that I can be very passionate about my relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, I am in some ways very selfish about it. I do not desire anyone or anything to come in between us. But then there are times when I allow things to come between us, I take an idol and place it between He and I and say, “Let me do this for a little while and then I will come back. You know I love You, Lord.”
But my words don’t line up with my actions when this is the case. There are times when my “passion” for the Lord Jesus Christ can become very overwhelming, and I cannot contain it, not even an ounce of it. It spills out of me and through me and overtakes me. But honestly, I would not want it any other way. He is more than just a God to me, He is my King, my Savior, my Lord, my Husband, my Teacher, my Leader, my Guide, my One True Love and no one and nothing will ever change that. Paul had this same devotion, this same desire and jealous love for God. We, who claim to love the Lord, should have that same kind of devotion and passion. But how do we obtain it? How do we ignite the fires of passion again in our hearts? We have to start by tearing down and away from us anything that draws our hearts away from Him.
I know some women who have this passion and devotion to their careers, their families, to their husbands, but let me remind you that God is a jealous God and not even your husband is to come in the middle of your relationship with Jesus Christ. This same passion for God and God for us is seen in Paul’s statement in Philippians. “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8) Paul stated that the only thing that mattered to him was that he “gain Christ.” Oh, to have that passion for Christ, to be able to say with Paul, “but what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.”
I realized this morning, that the relationship I have with my Lord and Savior still has some areas that need to be torn down. I let the demands of my day sometimes get in the way of our commitment to one another. Sometimes I feel Him drawing me to come and sit with Him, but instead I say- “Give me a minute; I want to watch who the next Food Network Star is going to be.” Or I hear Him tell me He loves me, I see His love for me in creation itself, and I take it for granted, too busy going about my day to stop and listen to His voice telling me, “I love you.” God’s zeal for us, His jealousy toward us should be reciprocated by our complete and utter devotion to Him. He created you, He redeemed you, He loves you beyond comprehension, He suffered and died, was beaten and bruised, torn to shreds by cat of nine tails, nailed to a cross just so that He could have you all to Himself. I know my husband loves me, but I also know that he would not have done all that, just to show me he loved me. Nothing, no one should ever come between you and your God. He desires to have you all to Himself. After everything He has done for us, should we not also offer ourselves to Him, wholly and completely- without excuse?
There was a time, a few years back, when I was not feeling the love from God in my life. I needed more of Him; I needed to know that He loved me. I was in the mountains of Boone, N.C. with my husband and I cried out, “Lord God, romance me.” And He did, that week was one of the most romantic expressions of love I have ever experienced. So if you are not “feeling” the passion, if you are wondering today how to ignite the fires again, I urge you to go somewhere alone and cry out, “Lord God, romance me. Show me your love for me, and let us be passionate for one another.” For the First Commandment states, “You shall have no other gods before me.” And Jesus tells us in Revelation “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works,” (Revelation 2:2-4) No matter what we “do”, no matter what ministry we serve in, no matter who we are in Him, if we do not have that jealous, that zeal, that passionate devotion to Him that He asks for, then all we do is in vain. Let us, as holy women of God, possessed by God; cry out today, “Lord God, romance me! I desire that passion for You in my life. Ignite within me the fires of devotion and love, for only to You do I belong.” In Jesus Name, Amen.