College Age Q&R with Ron Kangas in Calgary, Canada — August 18-19, 2018.
Then I mentioned one other matter related to the heart, some very honest questions.
One wrote, “I, I know the Lord should be my first love. I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But I still love many other things. Things that we would say are of the world or the present age. And I don’t want to give them up, and I’m not giving them up. So, what should I do?”
Then a related question is “how our love for the Lord develops.”
I don’t know whether this illustration would be helpful or not but let me try. At least you can understand the concept. When I mention it, you will see why I’m not going to probe into your experience. Here’s a young man, 25 or so, got his basic education or training, he wants to be married, he doesn’t want to be alone, and he meets, and he comes to love one particular woman of the three and a half billion on the earth. He loves only one and he is not doing this because there’s a teaching. You’re only supposed to love the one you marry, you’re not supposed to love 500 or five even or two, but one. Why does he find it not difficult at all to love one?
It’s because a series of things are happening in him, to him, with him in relation to her. There are certain things about her, that draw him to her, that attract him, that touch him, that activate his capacity to love a female, to make him aware of the need he has for a life companion. So, he doesn’t enter into a courtship, allow the love to develop, propose to her and marry her as some kind of effort that “I know I’m supposed to love only her,” it’s just no one else exists at least in that stage. So certain things the Lord knows need to happen to us and with us and for us, in order for us to love him, in order for us to love him at all, and in order for us to love him, first. Things need to happen to us experientially, God knows this. And the one apostle we may say in the New Testament, who was an expert at this was their brother John and he wrote something very important.
In First John chapter 4, verse 19. This is what he wrote. “We love because he first loved us.” This is the only way. The only way we can truly love the Lord and eventually love him first. And regarding this I want to make a point and perhaps address a need, and then we’ll go to all the other questions. We all know John 3:16. “God so loved the world,” okay, the entire human race. So, we may think “this is the way I suppose God loves me. I’m a human. I’m part of the 7 billion plus.” So, then you may think, “yes, God loves me.” It’s kind of abstract.
And then if you’re in the church life, you may be impressed with Ephesians 5, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Now we’re touching something very much in his heart. When He was on the cross He loved her, even though she was dead in sins, He loved her. So, then we may say or think, “I guess I’m included. I’m in the church.” But these two things, don’t work.
There’s something else that works. And for this, we need Paul who was breathing out murder against us. He wanted to kill the believers. He voted for the death penalty again and again. He wanted to destroy the church. But the Lord appeared to him and he was saved. Then later he wrote about his experience. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God. Who loved me and gave himself up for me.” This is the point. I include myself in the next statement. We have a very deep personal need to realize that the Sovereign Lord, our Savior loves each one of us, personally, and directly. He loved me. He said he didn’t say he loves humanity. He loved the church. He loved me. Even when I was breathing out murder, He loved me. He gave himself up for me, that is what motivated him to love the Lord. That’s what motivated John to love the Lord. And nothing else works. No teaching. No requirements that have been laid on you or you lay on yourself. No idea “this is what I’m supposed to do, a Christian supposed to do this, so I guess I should try to do it, but I’m really not doing it very well.” All of that is meaningless. I cast that aside a long time ago. This matter begins with the Lord Himself loving us and making known to us personally that we love him.
Then First John 4:19 begins to operate. We love, not only Him, but we love one another. And we love people. All human beings without partiality. We’ll even love our enemies. The love develops because He first loved us. So, I recommend another prayer, but it’s a private prayer, so no one has to know whether you pray it or not. But this matter somehow reaches you. You may say, “Lord cause me to know that you love me.” I don’t have the words to describe how deep this need is, to break through all the feelings we have about our self, all the feelings that have been put into us about our self, all the enemy’s accusations about us and attacks on us. But the Lord wants to break through this and somehow in a personal way, you know, and now this love is in you. And it operates but it operates like a plant growing, is developing. So the Lord’s way is this.
He knows he’s the most attractive being. He’s the only reality. He’s the only one that is really for us. He also knows what appeals to our fallen nature, what appeals to our disposition, what we’re drawn to in the world. He knows what part of the world system matches our particular makeup, our kind of soul, he knows this. But His approach is not religious, it’s personal. So, His way is to reveal Himself more, and to love us more. And then we see Him more and we love Him more.
And then as this is going contrast will take place in our thinking, illustrated by this very good hymn and our hymnal, it might be 473 but I may not have the numbers accurate. The thought of the hymn is “captivated by his beauty, worthy tribute haste to bring.” In other words, we don’t give up anything. As a first step. We are responding to the Lord first. Then spontaneously, we realize this is vain. My devoting my time to this is vain, it’s nothing to me now. But before this happens, it’s a lot to you. The computer games are a lot to you is kind of music is a lot to you. It doesn’t help to condemn yourself for it. It’s not going to make you more spiritual. So, I recommend the Lord’s way of making His love known and making Himself known to you. And then He draws us. To use Brother Lee’s expression “like an immense magnet,” inwardly we see him. It was that kind of experience, and I’ve never testified this so directly, that in 1973 before any of you are remotely close to existing, I wrote that hymn. “Jesus, Lord, I’m captured by the beauty.” This is the way. So, you are where you are right now. The Lord wants you to come to him just as you are and where you are, in all honesty, and open to him and talk to him very directly to say, “Lord, if You want me to be different, You need to do a lot in me. I’m willing for You to do that. If You want me to love You first, I need certain things to happen in me.”
Because there’s no man or woman on the earth, who just has the ability to love the Lord first. They’re a special kind of species. And we can’t be like that. No one is like that. So, when the Lord gave that commandment, quoting the Old Testament, “to love the Lord your God, from your whole heart, from your whole soul, from your whole mind, from your whole strength,” that is a commandment. But I remember the day when I realized that’s not only a commandment, this is a description of the Lord Himself. This is how He loves God. This is the kind of person who lives in us. When we get to know him, and let Him be Himself in us, then He starts reproducing himself in us. And little by little, this is fulfilled.