Monday, July 18, 2011

Affection-Driven Devotion

I am hitting the road this morning to preach two more weeks of Fuge Camps in Greenville, S. Carolina. I was called to fill in for a guy who had an emergency situation with his family. I have already preached three weeks and it has been an amazing experience. I blogged about it here recently.

The message I open camp with each week is the difference between the Affection-Driven life vs the Obligation-Driven life. As Christians we are often taught about our need to read the Bible, pray, serve others, attend church, give, love one another, submit to authority, relate to the lost, and the list goes on. These things are not wrong or bad, but they can become stumbling blocks if not taught properly. The motivation behind "why" we do them is equally as important as doing them. 

Many of us have been taught throughout our lives and our Christian experience the do's and don'ts, the right's and wrong's. The issue we need to wrestle over is not "do I do these things" but "why do I do these things?" Is my obedience the fruit of my relationship with Christ or am I attempting to make them the root of my salvation. In other words, do I do a lot of things in an effort to make God happy with me or do I do these things because they are a naturally outpouring of my affections for Christ? We are called to do the right things and live the Christian life in obedience, but these things stem from a heart filled with a love for God that has been created by the grace of God, through the faith provided as a gift by God. 

In Psalm 42:1-2 David speaks about how his soul thirsts for God, the Living God. He talks about how a deer pants for water, and that likewise, his soul pants for God. This is the writing and expressions of a person who's affections for the Lord are stoked white-hot. When is the last time you could say David's prayer and heart expression has been your own? His heart is a great example and model of one that exhibits great affections for the Lord.

When it comes to evangelism, we don't need new strategies, we need new hearts. Hearts driven by affections for the Lord. When it comes to relating to authority, we don't need to try harder to submit to imperfect leaders, we begin by submitting to the Lord who has placed those leaders over us. When it comes to loving others, we don't wait until people are more lovable, we begin by loving the One who fuels our capacity to love. When it comes to forgiving others, we don't wait until people deserve forgiveness, we begin by praising the God who forgave us through the precious blood of His Son. This drives us to forgive others. It all begins with our relationship with God. 

This is what it means to live an affection-driven life as opposed to the obligation-driven life. We cannot and will not live the Christian life with any joy or fulfillment if it is done as a duty or obligation. We must be driven by our affections for Christ Jesus, who is altogether lovely, who is altogether beautiful. Fix your gaze upon him and find your affections stirred and raised to fervent pitch! Hallelujah, what a Savior! How could we not want to live for him and his glory!?!

What are some things you have found that help to stir your affections for the Lord? For me it is reciting the gospel to myself and reflecting on the unique aspects of Christ's roles as Redeemer, Bridegroom, Advocate, and Friend to me. These always serve to fan my devotions for Christ into flame.

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