“I did not engage in a religious life but for the love of God, and I have endeavoured to act only for Him; whatever becomes of me, whether I be lost or saved, I will always continue to act purely for the love of God. I shall have this good, at least, that till death I shall have done all that is in me to love Him” – Brother Lawrence.
I just started reading “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence and was struck by this quote. Everything I have read up to this point – and yes, I’m still in the very early stages of the book – keeps repeating this theme of loving God from a place of pure motives.
Then there was this statement – Brother Lawrence stated that “he was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even his gifts.” I re-read that statement at least four times.
In our nation, we function on a system of rewards. Most cultures do. If you do something “good” or “right” then good things or rewards come to you. If you do something wrong . . . you get the idea. Teachers have systems in their classrooms that allow students to earn point for rewards. Bosses promise raises or promotions for a job well done.
But I think Brother Lawrence is getting to something much purer at the core of his faith. It’s simply about love. He sought to love God simply for the sake of loving Him. It wasn’t a behavior to gain blessings. In fact, there is mention in the book that “he placed his sins betwixt him and God” as though he needed to remind God NOT to bless him. But God insisted on offering blessings anyway.
I have not been able to get this concept out of my head – why do I do what I do in my faith walk? Do I try to show my husband love in the hope that he will show love back to me? Do I perform acts of kindness for others, hoping that they will comment on my behavior or tell others what I’ve done?
I John 5:3 says “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” I don’t need to get into a long, drawn-out list of Gods commands here. We know that he commands us to love others as ourselves, we know that he commands us to control our tongues, to exercise self-control . . . you get the idea.
If I make the focus of my life loving God – expecting nothing from Him in return – and if I fulfill I John 5:3, showing my love for God by keeping his commands, what effect would that have on my little corner of the world? How would I speak to those around me? How would I react in crazy traffic? How would I approach someone who has different political views than me? Or someone who mistreats me?
What would happen if all followers of Jesus made it their goal to live each day “for the love of God, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even his gifts.” What would the impact be on the world around us?! Think about it for a moment. Every single believer simply seeks to love God by keeping his commands. Not by doing good works, not by giving lots of money, not by political campaigning. Simply by loving obedience seeking nothing in return.
In John 13:34 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Not fix each other, argue with each other, correct each other, bad-mouth each other, avoid each other . . . love each other. Granted, our fellow human beings are not nearly as easy to love as a perfect Heavenly Father. But loving Him involves obeying His commands. Even this one.
Are you willing to make this radical change in your own personal focus? Am I even capable?