Becoming People of Realized Potential: Ordered Love

People of fully realized potential are exceptionally mindful in answering, “Who is my God?”

Primary Text:  Ruth 1:15-18

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.

  1. With who will I travel and stay?
  2. Who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

Answering, “Who is my God?” is the most important of my life’s decisions.

One’s highest allegiance is included in the expansive meaning of the biblical word love.

4“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4,5

My highest allegiance is “god” over lesser allegiances.

The love to which I am most loyal is “god” over my lesser loyal loves.

The One True God invites me, not to destroy love, but to properly order my love.

Like mismatched metronomes, I can too easily have unrhythmical loves.

What were Peter’s disordered and unrhythmical loves?  Luke 22:54-62

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.”57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

After His resurrection, Jesus reveals the issue all along is disordered and unrhythmical love.  John 21:15-19

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Although we can’t know for sure, Peter may have loved:

  • the known of ‘life as usual’ more than the unknown of total allegiance to Jesus.
  • fitting in with the crowd around the fire more than total allegiance to Jesus.
  • feeling in control of his life more than total allegiance to Jesus.
  • the power of self-determination more than total allegiance to Jesus.
  • living for self more than dying in total allegiance with Jesus.

Maclaren’s Expositions

How significant and beautiful it is that the only thing that Jesus Christ cares to ask about is the sinner’s love! We might have expected: ‘Simon, son of Jonas, are you sorry for what you did? Simon, son of Jonas, will you promise never to do the like any more?’ No! These things will come if the other thing is there. ‘Lovest thou Me?’ Jesus Christ sues each of us, not for obedience primarily, not for repentance, not for vows, not for conduct, but for a heart; and that being given, all the rest will follow. That is the distinguishing characteristic of Christian morality, that Jesus seeks first for the surrender of the affections, and believes, and is warranted in the belief, that if these are surrendered, all else will follow; and love being given, loyalty and service and repentance and hatred of self-will and of self-seeking will follow in her train.

This is the power of the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:3

All of life loses cadence when I have other gods before the One True and Living God.

Knowing the human tendency toward unrhythmical loves, Jesus shocks the world by declaring:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:26

Consider what Darrel Bock states in his IVP NT Commentary on the Gospel of Luke.

“So Jesus calls for a follower who will hate his mother and father, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life. The point of the list is that no other relationship is first for a disciple. “Hate” is used figuratively and suggests a priority of relationship. Jesus is first. To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus, not anyone or anything else. A disciple is a learner, and the primary teacher in life is Jesus. This total loyalty is crucial, given the rejection and persecution that lie ahead. If his followers care more about family than about Jesus, when families are divided under pressure of persecution, they will choose against Jesus. This is what lies behind Jesus’ remarks. Discipleship is not possible if Jesus is not the teacher.

This is why bearing the cross and coming after Jesus is the issue of discipleship. Learning from Jesus means following him, experiencing the rejection he experienced and so bearing the cross he bore. We cannot “learn Jesus” without being prepared to walk this path. Discipleship is basically allegiance. To follow Jesus is to rely on him.”

Imagine the beauty of rhythmic loves each in cadence with the other and all in step with God.

Augustine of Hippo, the foundational thinker of properly ordered and rhythmic loves stated:

To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.

I am most becoming a person of fully realized potential when all the loves of my life are in proper order and rhythmic with God.

Listen – My Story

  • What, other than human beings and God, do you love?
  • Is there a place on the planet you love greatly? (For God so loved the world…)

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Exodus 20:3 commands us to have “no other gods before Him.” How easy or difficult is it for you to keep this commandment?
  • In Luke 4:8 Jesus demands exclusive loyalty. Why do so many people struggle with Jesus’ word “him ONLY shall you serve.”
  • Read Revelation 2:2-7. What is Jesus’ disappointment with the people of Ephesus?  Is loving God your top priority?  If not, what does this passage require you to do?

Lift – Prayer

  • Does your loyalty to God make all other loyalties appear to be insignificant? Pray for God to help you keep Him your strongest loyalty.
  • Is there someone waiting for your increased loyalty and love? Pray for God to give this grace to you and strength to take the necessary actions.
  • Please pray for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully through Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
  • Have you been baptized in water? Is this a next step for you to publicly declare your loyalty to Christ?
  • Who do you know, living in idolatry too, who would be blessed to be included in MCA ministries and Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames?