I recently read an Associated Press article that showed through an extensive survey that Americans in general don’t know very much about religion, even their own religion. It actually stated that atheist and agnostics know more about various religions than those that ascribed beliefs in those religions.
At The Village, we have made several steps in the past year to better equip our people to understand what they believe. Honestly, this is a necessity in every church. But we must also beware of swinging the pendulum too far. Equipping our people with knowledge is important, but we must not neglect the heart either. I have known far too many believers that had a zealous– love for Jesus when they first got saved, then as they began to grow in their knowledge of the LORD Jesus, I would see their passion for Him slowly diminish. Why is this the case? How could our theological growth diminish our passion for GOD? After all, it should increase it! Paul says in Philippians that “it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment (1.9).” I believe that we can easily trace this back to misplacing our passion. When a person first gets saved, all they know is Jesus and Him crucified. They know the gospel story from their salvation – and they love Him for that – but as they grow in their knowledge of the Bible, as they very well should, they begin to misplace their affections from the GOD that saved them to the book about the GOD that saved them.
Another shift can occur through coming to church. As new believers begin to experience authentic biblical community, they find incredible joy in it. Then they may begin to experience through the Holy Spirit the thrill of worshipping the King of Kings in church worship services. This has led many in this current generation to actually begin worshipping worship rather than worshipping Jesus. All of these things are blessings from the LORD – the Scriptures, His church, worship, etc. but just like any other blessing we receive, they too can become an idol as they take the place of Jesus on the throne of our hearts.
We must be wary of becoming seduced in this way. This is a slow process that takes place until we find ourselves loving GOD out of duty with very little emotion. No doubt, we have been commanded by GOD to love GOD. But He doesn’t just want us to love Him because He commands us to, but rather because we see Him as glorious. Love without emotion is not love, it’s simply will power. We can return to this love by repenting and remembering. We must repent of how our love has shifted from the Giver of gifts to the gifts from the Giver. And we must remember each day the beauty of the Gospel. We must remember how He saved us and be thankful for His work on the cross for us. This love for Jesus should fuel our study of His Word, His worship and our love for His people.