“The absence of intense desire is a sure sign of God’s absence from the heart. To abate fervor is to retire from God. Lack of heart and lack of heat are two things God loathes.”
The current series on Obstacles to Intimacy with God ends with apathy and boredom.
The opposite of love is not hate…
…it is apathy.
Any counselor knows that if a married couple fights like cats and dogs there is hope for their marriage.
If, on the other hand, one or the other doesn’t seem to care, but is merely “going through the motions,” the relationship is doomed.
While this seems odd, so long as their emotions are still engaged, their hearts are still involved. Let one withdraw his or her heart, and there’s nothing left to work with.
It was for this reason that Jesus called out the church of Laodocea. He said that their lukewarm attitude toward Him made Him want to puke!
Their relationship with God was going nowhere
and they could not care less.
They weren’t at odds with Him, but neither were they tender toward Him.
It’s a bit scary to realize that:
an atheist who hates God is in better shape than an apathetic Christian!
Many Christians that I know today came from a position of strong opposition to God.
What causes us to pull away from God?
Generally, our withdrawal has to do with something that didn’t go our way. We were hurt by someone, our health failed, or our finances fell apart.
“If God loves me, then why did He let … happen to me?”
Did you ever wonder why we blame God for our problems? We live in a fallen world. That anything good ever happens should astonish us!
Once we’ve removed ourselves, we get comfortable with being distant. The whole “God thing” didn’t work, so why bother?
“Benefits” to distance between us begin to seem apparent:
We don’t have to change. In His presence is where we are transformed.
Change challenges our judgments and assumptions, but we’re happy with our mini kingdoms and don’t want to give up the “power” to pronounce judgment on others.
Transformation demands a certain amount of instability. Transformation can be very uncomfortable. We like things tied up in neat little packages. We prefer predictability. Life with God is certainly not always predictable!
We feel safe when there is distance because we know He can be wild – and we are scared of how He may (or may not) respond to us.
Those to whom we are closest can hurt us the deepest. Being close to God smarts sometimes – especially when He pulls back the veil of denial and we see things about ourselves that we don’t like…and don’t especially care to change.
Also, uncertain of what He might ask us to do, we stay away.
“If I got serious about God, He would probably send me to Africa.”
(I used to worry about this, myself.)
Good news! Unless you have a burning desire to go to Africa, I doubt that’s on His agenda for you.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him.
In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in the world we are like Him.
There is no fear in love.
But perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:14-18).
How do we get back on track?
First, we recognize that we have an issue with God.
Then, we confess it and ask for His help in settling the matter.
Once we’ve identified what’s wrong, we replace the lies we’ve believed, or renounce any unholy agreements we’ve made (I’ll never…), and replace them with truth. We ask the Lord to make Himself real to us, and to speak to us about the issue at hand. We ask Him to show us what we need to know or do to clear the lines of communication.
We expect a response! James tells us that if we ask without expecting Him to answer, we won’t receive anything (chapter 1).
We trust that we’ve been heard, and that the answer is YES. God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. What we’ve asked is in accordance with His will. This is a prayer that we can confidently ask “in Jesus’ name.”
We live in a world where distractions abound, as do opportunities to be hurt or offended. I’m not sure why we blame every unpleasant thing that comes my way on You, but we do. Talk about being unfair!
Where there is something between us, please make it known…then show us what to do about it. We can be a little slow sometimes.
Light the fire within us once again. Help us to burn brightly with love for You.
Thank You for making Your will known concerning our relationship with You. It is for this reason alone that we can confidently ask You to draw us closer, and do so
In Jesus’ name.
You’ve dropped in on the series Intimacy with God. It begins here: C’mon In…
This section is about obstacles to intimacy. It begins here: A Clogged Conduit