I absolutely love when I’m completely immersed in a Bible study or book that challenges me spiritually, how everything around me seems to echo what I’m learning. I’ve noticed a recurring theme of challenging my motivation for having a relationship with God. My Beth Moore Bible study on John is doing this and reading Your God is too Safe by Mark Buchanan is doing this as well. Most recently, however, a guest-preacher at our church delivered an amazing sermon on this very topic. He started by asking this question:
What is your motive or motivation for having a relationship with God?
And then he shared a series of stair-steps similar to this picture that I created (based on memory from his sermon):
Starting from the bottom stair and going up, here are a list of motives we might have for pursuing a relationship with God:
- Fear: We might be scared of going to Hell. Perhaps that’s why we want a relationship with God (or at least we try to fake it)…to save us from the impending doom that is our afterlife apart from God. So we’ll do what we have to do, check off the boxes, and go about life the same way we always do…except maybe attending church on Sunday mornings every now and then.
- Guilt: Were you raised in a Christian household? Do you come from a long line of “believers”? Perhaps you feel this guilt that forces you to keep going through the motions of being a “Christian”. Or maybe you serve out of guilt. I know I am certainly ‘guilty’ of this sometimes.
- The Benefits: Even though we’re assured that “in this life, we will have trouble” (John 16:33), living a Christian life can often benefit us as well. Marriages are often healthier when both spouses have a relationship with God and raising children is definitely more fulfilling when instilling Christian values in your children. Oh, and don’t forget about Heaven! Isn’t this the ULTIMATE benefit???? This is often what we focus on when we try to “convert” people…we want them to have the benefit of Heaven.
- It’s the right thing: God commands us to follow Him and we should obey. It’s the right thing to do. Although this motive doesn’t focus on ourselves, if we don’t strive to keep on stepping up, we’ll be no different than the Pharisees. Although God deserves our utmost respect and obedience, a relationship with Him that is solely out of obligation and reverence is not what He wants for us.
- Love: This is the ultimate motivation and one we should all strive for! After all, God is love (1 John 4:16). Once we start loving God with everything inside us, this will overflow into all of our other relationships as well.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” -1 John 4: 7-12
Can’t see the video? Go here.
I first heard this song from Jars of Clay when I was in middle school. In my 13-year old immaturity, I thought this song was talking about romantic love (I apparently didn’t listen closely to the words). Since I realized the true meaning of this song, I have been so encouraged by listening to the lyrics. This song perfectly articulates my daily prayer!