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December 20, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Discipleship

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-39)

I read a number of blogs by pastors and theologians, and one pastor I used to read regularly always promoted his upcoming Sunday service as “the best one ever!!!” or one “you have to bring all your friends to!!!” or one that “God is going to do AMAZING things at so you have to be there!!!!!!!” I never got the sense that the pastor was just trying to artificially sell his church; it truly seemed that he loved his church and believed that God was going to do great things every Sunday. But still, after a while the message began to lose its ability to inspire anticipation.

I’ve been thinking about that pastor recently, and reflecting upon how opposite my approach, as well as our church’s approach, can be. Take for example our approach to our upcoming mission trip to Haiti. To date, we have put an insert in the bulletin and I have made a couple of Sunday announcements to consider the trip and to talk to Amely if interested. Not exactly a stirring appeal to what is possibly the most central task of our Christian lives: the great commission, Jesus’ call to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

The truth that God has been convicting me of is that too often the heart is missing from what I do, and from what our church does. It’s not just a mission trip that we should consider signing up for. This is the heart of God: to bring His children back to Him! That His church would love our neighbor as we love ourselves! That we would share our abundance with those who are hurting and in need! Now, that does not mean that everyone in our church should go to Haiti, but it does mean that it is incumbent upon each of us to prayerfully consider how God might want us involved: to go, to pray, to give, or perhaps to open our eyes to where else we might serve.

This conviction applies to many other areas of my life and our church. Where else am I just “checking the box,” fulfilling a role, doing my duty, but missing the heart? Am I pastoring people from a heart that resonates with God’s deep love for His church, out of a desire to see people fully formed in Christ? Am I loving my children with a heart that treasures them and wants them to know God’s deep affection for them and His desire that they would be saved? Are we forming a youth ministry so that we “have something for the teens”? Or is it our passion to see our young people grow into an army of worshipers who love God and live out their faith in this world? And so on…

Where is the heart? Where is the passion? Those questions have been going through my mind often this past week, and I encourage you to reflect upon them, especially during this season. Christmas can easily become a season where we go through the motions – buying presents, going to holiday parties, and thinking occasionally about the birth of Jesus. Before we know it, Christmas is over and we have missed the heart: that we are so loved by the God of the universe that He sent His Son Jesus to live and die for us, so that we might have eternal life.

As we inch closer to 2017, I pray that we all might live with more heart, and do what God has called us to do a passion that brings Him the honor that He deserves.

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