Wednesday, August 23, 2017

LOVER OF...


We throw the word Love around a lot in today's vernacular. The things and people that we list we love -  I love this food, that puppy, my friend, that dress, my wife/husband and so forth - are endless. However, what you are truly a lover of, in love with and/or passionate about will be shown to all through your actions. 

Jesus Christ is The Lover of My Soul. How do I know? He showed me. I have the capacity to respect myself and love others because Jesus loved me first. 1 John 4:19 says this - "We love because He first loved us." Paul gets a little more descriptive than John in his letter to the believers in Rome when he said, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) Father God, Yahweh, is passionate about humanity. He is so passionate that He sent His Word made flesh, Jesus, to die and rise again from death to redeem our fallen relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, many, including some Christians, have fallen into a non-reciprocal form of affection to God. In fact, Paul says in his second letter to Timothy that loving God will be replaced with loving pleasure "in the last days".  2 Timothy 3:1-2, 4 says, "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." In The End OF The End Times is how "the last days" is translated and this characteristic of loving pleasure instead of God along with the others listed in that passage is certainly here today in frequency and intensity.

The phrase "lovers of pleasure" comes from one compound Greek word - philodonos. The two words that make-up this combined word are phileo and hedonos. Many Christians know that phileo means a deep, profound love, possibly even romantic in nature. Hedonos is where we get the doctrine of hedonism - pleasure or happiness as the highest good. Put these words together and you get an infatuation with happiness to the point of excluding God from the equation. So, the key ingredient in Philodonos I want to magnify is obsession or addiction.

The obsessive or addictive trappings this word refers to are secular or worldly. Philodonos communicates a person or thing of this world that we have latched on to so much that we base or derive our happiness from him, her or it and is not willing to let go. Mr. Rick Renner stated it nicely when he said, "God is not against our being blessed or enjoying nice possessions, as long as we hold them in our hands and don't allow them into our hearts. But when the acquisition of possessions becomes an obsession and takes first place in our lives, thereby affecting our obedience to God and His Word, it is wrong. In fact, it has become a form of idolatry. We have crossed a line that is a serious violation in the eyes of God." (p.486, Sparkling Gems From the Greek 2) Whatever we have, it was God's first AND we should be ready, with open hand to give it back to Him, SO THAT He can bless us with the next great thing for our lives.

Happiness is a meandering friend. We cannot base the pursuit of this finicky ghost on people or worldly possessions. However, there is a Joy that floods my soul when I know that I am in alignment with the Holy Spirit; when I am on the same page with God; when my wheels are on His Track. This Joy stems from obedience. Why wouldn't I obey The God who loved me so much He sent Jesus and loves me so much He continues to display His love endures forever toward me? There is a better life awaiting me and others than those who are "lovers of pleasure". What are you in love with? What are you passionate about? What do your actions show that you are the Lover Of?