by Shayla Asselin
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Once every two years, our church has an Easter play. I’ve been involved with props since we started doing it and I’ll never forget one day in March 2014. The whipping post had just been built, so I took it outside to apply red paint – representing Christ’s blood. If you know me well, I have a tendency to make a mess. When I’m finished cooking or crafting, I’m usually a mess and so is the space around me. So, true to my nature, about ten minutes into applying the red paint to the whipping post, I looked down to find I was covered in red paint. The paint was on my skirt, shoes, hands, and dripping down my arms. At that moment, I wasn’t just working on a prop any more. The realization of the torture and agony I was trying to represent hit me like a wave. I crumbled at the weight and began sobbing like a child. I experienced a flood of emotions that day. I knew He shed His precious blood as a sacrifice for my sin. I knew that Jesus suffered for me. I knew that the stripes on His back were for my healing. I knew I owed a debt I could not pay, and He paid a debt He did not owe. I was overwhelmed by the love of God. I didn’t deserve that kind of love. I could never earn that kind of love. But He gave it freely.
While I was sitting down beside the whipping post, I remembered a moment right after I was saved. I was standing on the right side of the first pew in the middle of our church. I had only been saved a few months and could not understand why God would send His only Son to die on a cruel cross just to save me. That night, I was questioning God. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that kind of forgiveness and grace. Why would Jesus endure the betrayal, the whipping, the cross, the ridicule, and the spears for me? “I am so unworthy,” I argued. Then, it was as if God bent down and whispered in my ear, “Because I love you.” That’s all He said, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. I accepted God’s love for what it was – forgiving, merciful, gracious, and for me.
As Christians, we often mention and reflect on the overwhelming love of God, and we should. How often we see social media posts, read blogs, hear sermons, and listen to songs about how deeply God loves us. We hear how He loved us enough to send His son to die on the cross. We give thanks because even though He knew exactly who we were, He forgave our sins. We get excited because His love and forgiveness gives us the hope of heaven. We love receiving God’s love.
But how much do we love God? Do we love Him enough to spend time in prayer? Do we love Him enough to study Scripture? Do we love Him enough to assemble ourselves together with other believers at church? Do we love Him enough to forsake the world, take up our cross, and follow Him? When we hear how Jesus’ disciples were brutally murdered for their faith, we are inspired by their dedication to Christ. When we read stories from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, we are amazed at their dedication unto death. So, my question is “what has happened?” Early Christians sacrificed their lives, and today some struggle to sacrifice a few hours on Sunday to attend church? And some don’t even consider their church’s midweek opportunities. We claim to have experienced this eternally changing experience through salvation, but it doesn’t move us enough to share the greatest story ever told to a hurting co-worker. Spending time in prayer and in God’s Word every day is out of the question because we’ve overscheduled our days, leaving no room for the Savior of our souls. I know God’s love for us has not changed, but I do believe our love for God has changed throughout the years.
Matthew 22:37 reads, “Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” I recently read a quote by Craig Groeschel that said, “There is a massive difference between calling yourself a Christian and living a Christ-centered life.”
How often do we use the word “Christian” to define ourselves, but our very actions and our love is a far cry from being Christ-like?
Our everything should be laid on the altar of dedication to God. My heart cries for a revival of repentance, dedication, and consecration in today’s church world.
A frequently used argument against crucifying our selfish desires is “well God loves me no matter what I do. None of those sacrifices and that dedication will make Him love me more.” And it is true that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love. There is not one person who is more deserving of salvation than another person.
But what must be understood is that my dedication to God, my standards of holiness, my commitment to devotional time, and my faithfulness to church is not works unto salvation, but rather, obedience unto God. So while our actions may not make God love us any less, they do indicate how much we love God.
Jesus said, in John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Later, in John 14:24, Jesus said, "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings." Our obedience to God is a direct reflection of our love for Him. You see, God loves us enough to accept us as we are, but to much to leave us as we are. When God’s love fills our lives, and we return that love, we are a new creation. Old things are passed away, and all things have become new. God’s love changes the way I live my life.
When I remember the price Jesus paid for my sins, when I remember the red paint running down my arms, when I remember the still small voice whispering, “Because I love you,” I can’t help but want to give my all to Him. My time, my money, my desires, my heart – it all belongs to God. All to Jesus, I surrender.
All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow, Worldly pleasures all forsaken; Take me, Jesus, take me now. All to Jesus I surrender, Make me, Savior, wholly Thine; Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine. All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power, Let Thy blessing fall on me. All to Jesus I surrender, Now I feel the sacred flame. Oh, the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory to His name