I know I’ve fallen behind on posting sermons here—I promise I’ll fix that problem this week. In the meantime I’m pleased to see that Timothy Keller, my favorite contemporary preacher and Christian author, gets at something in his new book that I preached about in my sermon last Sunday. I was preaching Psalm 1.
Here’s what I said:
Also, notice this verse says that the happy person’s delight is in God’s Word. You can’t fake delight. You know what “delight” is? It’s like falling in love—falling in love—with God, falling in love with Jesus Christ.
I fell in love with my wife, Lisa, when I was in college my first time around. And when I did, my life, my lifestyle, changed drastically! For example, before Lisa, I would hang out with my circle of four or five friends nearly every weekend—I mean, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This was very important to me. The most important thing in my life, truth be told. And, oh my goodness, when I met and fell in love with Lisa—see you later, friends! Suddenly, I wasn’t hanging out with my friends the way I used to.
I can laugh about it now, but at the time, these friends were mad at me. They were hurt. Because they had no idea what it meant to fall in love with someone. You would do anything for the person you’re in love with. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you think is important in life, or what your other priorities are—when you fall in love the person you’re in love with moves to the top of the priority list. You need to change careers for the sake of the person you love? Done. You need to move across the country for the sake of the person you love? Done. You need to move to another part of the world for the sake of the person you love? Done. You need to sacrifice your lifelong dreams and plans for the sake of the person you love? Done. And guess what? It’s not even hard to do these things… If you’re truly in love.
Like the old Foreigner song says: [singing] “I would climb any mountain/ Sail across the stormy sea/ If that’s what it takes me, baby/ To show you how much you mean to me.”
If we’re in love with Jesus, that’s what our attitude should be. “What can I do for you today, Lord? I’ll gladly do it.” You want me to go on this mission trip? Done. You want me to step outside my comfort zone and serve you in this church, even though it makes me nervous and scared? Done. You want me to witness to my friends, share the gospel with them, and invite them to church? Done. You want me to tithe—to give ten percent of my income to you through this church, even though I’m worried I won’t make ends meet? Done. You want me to give up these behaviors and habits and trust in you more and more? Done.” These things aren’t hard… not really—not if we’re in love with Jesus.
Of course, if we’re not in love with Jesus, if we don’t delight in God’s Word the way the psalmist says, then doing nearly anything for the Lord can be very difficult. I’m speaking from painful experience, believe me! There have been long stretches of time in my life when, like the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2, I have lost the “love I had at first.”
According to this review, Tim Keller makes a similar point. Using Augustine’s insight about sin as “disordered loves,” he writes the following:
Whatever captures the heart’s trust and love also controls the feelings and behavior. What the heart most wants the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find valuable, and the will finds doable… Your loves show what you actually believe in, not what you say you do. People therefore, change not by merely changing their thinking but change what they love most. Such a shift requires nothing less than changing your thinking, but it entails much more.
Keller goes on to say that there are things that Christians know, intellectually, that they don’t really know—because it hasn’t penetrated their hearts and reordered their loves. As I said in my sermon, when we fall in love with someone, that person moves to the top of our priority list. When that happens, we find it relatively easy to change.
If we find change hard, we should ask ourselves: who or what are we “in love” with?