If you ask a Christian “What do you think God wants most from us?” you may hear “He wants us to be good,” or “He wants us to pray,” or “He wants us to help people.” You should expect these answers. But they are all wrong. They are off by about three degrees. If you begin a journey and you are three degrees off your bearings you will soon be a mile off, and, in a few days, hundreds of miles off. The correct answer is always this: God want us to love Him. That’s what matters most. And in pursuit of loving God we need to toss overboard whatever may distract us to drift off course.
Christianity is complex. Sin comes easily. Those of us who have lived some years as followers of Christ are probably not going to stumble into a life of crime. We are probably not going to wake up one day and choose to reject God and become angry atheists. However, we do need to be afraid of drift and distraction.
Morality is not the point, either. When it becomes the point you will become corrupt. The Pharisees were moral, the most moral people around yet Jesus reserved His most scathing words for them. Morality will not save you from hell; it will not even make you a better person. It may, however, make life miserable for those around you. It is only a means to a much greater end.
I want my kids to behave well and I want your kids to behave well. But if we teach them only morality they well become cold legalists. I propose that we as parents, teachers and children’s workers check our bearings and work to lead our kids to love God first—an informed, well-thought-out and defensible love for God. Considering the character of God, a response of love is the only reasonable one.
If you agree with me then you should be asking something along the lines of “Okay, so how do I do this? How do I love God more?” Even, “How do I help my kids to love God more?” These are exactly the questions to ask. Work on some answers yourself. Ask wise people around you. Read Scripture with just those questions in mind and you will be surprised at how much material you will find, because, after all, that is what God’s Word was written to help you understand. Love is the only motive for life as a Christian.
—Adapted from “Morality is Not the Point,” by Dave Carl
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship