Jesus asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). This is a question I need reminding of often. Obedience – or how I am walking, living, thinking, etc. – matters to Jesus a great deal. It’s the difference between saying I love God and actually loving Him (Jesus said those who love, obey).
I read that this morning just prior to hearing a clip from John Piper on a similar topic. The title caught my eye: “Do I Love God or Just Love Loving Him?“ A caller wanted to know how he could know the difference, and Piper gives him 4 “tests”, or ways we can know whether our love is a genuine love or more of an infatuation.
I realize not everyone likes John Piper, but I believe he has much to teach us. While I don’t agree with everything he has to say, I like to think that John Piper can be to us Methodists what George Whitefield was to Wesley.
Here is the short clip which I recommend listening to. Below I have summarized each of his 4 “tests.” He begins by asking,
How can I know whether I am just fascinated by theology about God or whether I really love God?
The Four Tests of an authentic love of God:
1. Is your love of God changing your life at the practical root? What you do, what you desire, how you treat people, are you bearing fruit of the Spirit, and so forth. Holiness of life is the mark of authentic faith. Faith without works is dead. If we are not being changed by the inside out then we are probably playing games.
2. Do you love to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel as good news to people who need it or do you only like to discuss it with people who already know it? The essence of biblical truth is news. It’s good news! Are you always analyzing it or do you see the gospel as NEWS? If you have no inclination to tell anybody the truth of God as news then something is wrong. It’s like listening to the evening news and just analyzing the grammar. We should have a desire to speak news into the lives of others.
3. Do you take risks with your life, with your money, relationships, etc? The test of whether you really love your better possession (God) is that you are willing to take risks, or leaps of faith, with these matters, trusting that God is faithful, and worth more than any possession you have.
4. How does your theology serve you when your suffering or dying? Ideas about God will crumble in those moments. We show what is at the root of our commitments by how they serve us in our suffering. Paul says we thought we had been served the sentence of death so that we might rely on God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:9). Do I believe God is an all-sufficient God? Do I believe God is good, all the time?