“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” – Brennan Manning (but made cooler by DC Talk)
I once had my mentor tell me that some are in love with the idea of Christianity more so than Jesus. That seemed ridiculous in the moment. Now it feels perfectly accurate.
For the same reasons we love judging (it makes us feel better about us without doing anything) self-identifying as a Christian can also make us feel better because we’re somehow linked to the “right” group so we’re “in” with low commitment.
We don’t care about Jesus just the benefits.
However, the Scriptures have strong warnings against this.
From the Old Testament:
“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
From Jesus in the New Testament:
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Let’s call that what it is: hypocrisy.
And its what the world hates about us.
God wants our hearts not disconnected actions.
Let’s talk about two kinds of love for a moment:
The first type of love is in the Greek “philia”is a brotherly love or close affection. It’s where we get Philadelphia from.
Philia love probably best describes the love my family had for our beloved Berkley whom we had to have put down last night. We loved her very much. The whole family woke up with puffy eyes and even now as I type about her I get emotional all over again.
Philia is a very real kind of love but it’s casual. It’s not the kind of love Jesus speaks of in the Shema (it always comes back to this prayer).
The other, stronger love is “agape” in the Greek. It is an unconditional love. Think of that famous passage in 1 Corinthians that gets read at many weddings. (love is patient, kind, forgiving…etc)
The biggest difference is that loving in an agape way is based on will, not emotion.
That’s the love Jesus has for us and wants in return.
Philia love goes to church when it feels like it because it feels like an obligation.
Agape love goes to church even when it doesn’t want to because it wants to know Jesus more than it wants comfort.
Philia love fades if you’re not in contact with the other.
Agape love refuses to let you fade away from the one you love.
My heart wants us to be people who chase after Christ with our hearts and not merely hypocrites who love the idea of him.
For more on loving God with our hearts I’d highly recommend checking out the series I did on the Shema prayer.