Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who Or What Has Your Affections?

As I read through 1John I realize how good John was at drawing our attention to what Jesus taught concerning our love and dedication to God and one another. Often there is so much going on in the gospels, all the action and various teachings, we can miss the essence of the message of Jesus Christ. Using rather crude words to sum up the incredible message of Jesus we could hear him say, "Dad and I love you and I am here to prove it". At the core of everything Jesus taught and everything he did we find love. We should realize this when Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments from God are to love him with our entire being and to love our neighbour. Yet, there are times when we get caught up in so many other things and we forget the motivation behind them.

Jesus warned in various ways that there is a counterfeit love that distracts us from the authentic love for our Father. You may recognize it in the careless way we speak of our affections toward things that bring us pleasure:

"I love that car."
"I love that TV show."
"I love that actor."
I love that dress."

We speak of our strong attractions to things that fade and spoil, which we will soon forget about as it passes away. We can find ourselves running from one fad to another, playing fancy free with our emotions and what influences us. We can also do this in the Church as we "love" leaders, programs, groups with more affection, more love than what we have for the One they represent.

John took these warnings of Jesus and made it very clear for us:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

We read this warning and laugh but I think we are fools for doing so. We consider our "little" cravings and distractions to be innocent. We have no idea what fire we are playing with when we play with our affections. Our God said he is a jealous God in the sense that he created us for himself and he does not want to share our hearts with anything else. The enemy has tried to separate us from the affections of our Father from the very beginning as he convinced Eve that she was attracted to something that would separate her from God. He did not create that tree but the enemy will use whatever means there are at hand to distract us. Then there are our own sinful desires that try to mimic the affections that were sown into us, that were intended for the Father.

We need to take the affairs of our heart seriously and we need to pay attention. Jesus said we cannot love two masters. John is saying our love for the world will replace our love for the Father; we can't have both. What are we most passionate about? Jesus said that wherever our treasure is, that is where our heart will be as well. Can you see the seriousness of this matter? It is a good moment for some reflection as you examine your own heart. As you reflect on where your treasure is consider the warning of John:

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

And weight the instruction Jesus gave us:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."  (Matthew 6:19-24)

Before this day is done, let us be sure who we serve and who has our heart.

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