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In our culture today, the idea of love isn’t foreign to us. In fact, in our culture today, an idea of love is propagated, pushed, and promoted. We’ve got a love problem on our hands in Western culture. The problem was predicted before the United States of America was even considered a nation:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5, ESV

You see, the first issue the apostle Paul brings up here is people’s tendencies to “be lovers of self.” In verse four, he describes people “in the last days” as “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” So then, what’s going on with those who don’t love God becomes somewhat clearer. The heart of the problem is, quite frankly, that they’ve traded the love of the Best Thing for the love of something lesser. Instead of loving God, these people Paul describes love pleasure, money, and/or themselves. We can see this problem manifested time and time again throughout Scripture.

Take Revelation 3:14-22 for instance. Here we can see God addressing “the church in Laodicea.” And what’s wrong with them? They’re lukewarm, not hot or cold, and therefore not useful for anything. Thus, God’s threat to vomit them out of His mouth (v. 16). The passage continues, and we get a more in-depth look at the issue:

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Revelation 3:17-18, ESV

What’s seems to be happening with these lukewarm Christians is that they think they’re all good and dandy because they’ve got all their stuff. They love what they have and don’t realize that God offers stuff that’s so much better. They’ve traded the love of heavenly things, the love of God, for the love of earthly things, the love of worthless garbage.

Once again, the same scenario is presented to us in the account of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:19-24). Esau is the eldest of the two, and therefore he has the birthright, the promised blessing and inheritance from his father. The birthright was basically one of the most important things an individual could have. And what did Esau do? He sold it for a meal. For one lousy bowl of lentils and a bit of bread. For food. Esau made the deal, and “[t]hen Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34).

Similarly, in Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with God and refuses to let go until he receives His blessing, which he does indeed receive. At the beginning of Malachi 1, God declares, “I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated” (v. 2, 3, ESV). Esau is rejected and despised, yet Jacob is loved. Jacob is the one who recognized what was valuable. He wrestled with God and would not let go until he received the blessing.

Our issue in Western culture today is not so much our lack of love so much as our lack of the right kind of love, our lack of loving the right kind of stuff. We’re great at being in love in our society, but hardly anyone is in love right. Hardly anyone is in love correctly. That’s the dilemma I see and I think the dilemma God has really revealed to me: we simply value what is far less valuable than what we ought to love. May we be like the apostle Paul instead. He declared,

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…

Philippians 3:7-8, ESV

Jesus said we can only serve one master (Matthew 6:24). So who’s it gonna be? I think as people who call ourselves Christians, we need to take a step back and look at our hearts. Look at our lives. What’re we in love with? Are we blind and naked, manifesting the characteristics of the Laodicean church? We’ve got to make sure we’re not, because it’s vitally important to our eternal destinations.

A wise man I know once said in his youth he prayed the prayer “let me know the Living God or let me die.” May we be in love right, longing to know God or die. May we yearn for what’s truly valuable like that.

May we be in love right, longing to know God or die. May we yearn for what’s truly valuable like that.

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