Saturday, December 11, 2010

Love, Devotion, and Service

When I was in college, a local church sent buses to the campus to transport students back and forth to Sunday services. On those bus trips, we sang lots of “contemporary” Christian songs and choruses. I was reminded of one of those songs when I was thinking about Jesus’ command that we love the Lord our God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. The song was “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” and one of the verses was, “If you love Him, why not serve Him [repeated three times], soldiers of the cross.” While that sounds politically incorrect by several contemporary standards, the song does express a central aspect of what we mean by “Loving God.” Love naturally leads to service.

One recognition that grows out of our understanding God’s grace is that all of life is a gift from God. Too often, however, we forget that the gift must be returned to God through devotion and service. Those two words, “devotion” and “service,” well describe central aspects of an agape-type love for God. Devotion speaks of exclusive commitment or loyalty (“no other gods besides me”) and deep affection (“heart, soul, mind and strength”). “I love you with all my heart” is an easy commitment to verbalize—not unlike a wedding vow—but words of devotion and affection mean little if the words are not accompanied by actions.

A love that claims to be exclusive, loyal, and deep but does not find expression in acts of love can rightly be questioned as to its authenticity. When a disciple responds to God’s grace by loving God, that response will find expression in becoming a servant of God. New Testament translators use even stronger expressions like “bond-servant” or “slave” (the underlying Greek word “doulos” is used 141 times in the New Testament) to describe service to the Lord. Even the title “Lord” carries with it the idea of the supreme authority of a master over a slave.

My point today is this: If we love God in response to his grace, our love will find expression in deeds of love shown toward God. We will become servants of God whose lives reflect our love and devotion to the Lord of our lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment