This one is so easy because, like so many lies, it has an element of truth to it. We do want to love God with our heart, soul, and strength. But we tend to get this wrong because of our innate tendency toward self-justification and self-righteousness.
This is why grace is so amazing: God loved us when we were unlovely. To paraphrase Jonathan Edwards, the only thing you brought to salvation was your sin. And yet God loved you so much Jesus died for you. You are his child; he’s not mad at you.
Sometimes pastors do a better job of telling others the truth about who they are in Christ than believing the same truth they teach others also applies to them. Understanding our identity in Christ may be the most important issue for the church in our changing times today.
We have a tendency to think of God like we do people. We have anthropomorphized him such that our default mindset is of a towering figure shaking his finger at all of our wrongs. If we prayed more, he’d love us more. Or if we didn’t watch that series on Netflix, he’d be more proud of us. If we began every day with 30 more minutes of quiet time, he’d think we were on the right path.
Here’s the truth: We’ve got to stop making ourselves the hero and let Jesus be the hero that he needs to be. Pastor, it’s not about you, or me. Or what we’ve done or haven’t done. It’s about Jesus. That’s it.
Take a lesson from David. David was the man after God’s heart, right? He loved the Lord and focused on serving him. But David also sinned terribly and felt remarkable grief (see Psalm 51). Here’s the thing, though: David didn’t spend the rest of his life in the shadow of his sin, but in pursuit of his Hero.