First Things First

Couple watching sunset over ocean


I want to stress that there is no way I can do justice to the expression of God’s love. The subject of God’s love is exhaustive. We will never reach the end of His love, we will be eternally learning and growing in His love.
The love of God is the message a broken and orphaned world needs to hear and see. The world doesn’t need a ‘turn or burn’ type of message that scares them into the Kingdom of God. The world needs to hear a message that expresses a love that really makes no sense to us at all, a love that suffered the torture of flogging and cruel Roman crucifixion for us in our place. I have to ask – ‘What kind of love does that?’ It’s the kind of love that is sacrificial, un-selfish and has no limits or boundaries as to how far it will go for you and me. It is perfect love. It is JESUS!

I have seen a distinct difference between Christians who come to faith because they were ‘scared’ into the kingdom, compared to those who came in because they were touched and drawn by the magnetic love of God. It is the love and goodness of God that leads one to repentance (Romans 2:4). You can scare a person into being godly on the outside, but all you have done is modify their behaviour. At the end of the day, you haven’t really turned their hearts towards God. I believe the love of God is the most heart transforming message we can impart and it is the revelation of it or the lack thereof that will separate Christians who are passionate for Jesus from those who are not. It separates the lovers of Jesus from those who just work for Jesus. You may be asking, ‘What does that mean?’ Simply put, I see two kinds of people in the kingdom – lovers and workers. I believe that lovers get more done than workers, even though they may do less. Sounds crazy doesn’t it, but the lover is so connected to the vine, that whatever he or she does is an outflowing of the very heartbeat of the Father and therefore the work a lover does holds more spiritual and eternal weight.

The worker often has good intentions and a heart that loves the Lord. The work they do is good, but sadly it becomes nothing more than religious duty motivated out of fear. Fear often drives the worker. It is a fear that can so grip the heart that it becomes torment. This is not from the Father because His Word tells us in 1 John 4:18, ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.’

Religion has driven the worker to a point where a relationship with God has become performance based; it could be that he is doing it in his mind to escape punishment. Perhaps he believes that his works will secure his salvation or maybe he feels that as long as he is working for God nothing bad will happen to him. He may also believe that his blessings from God will come as a result of his works. These are all a deception! Working for God doesn’t enable us to keep a healthy relationship with the Lord, secure our salvation or guarantee our blessings. A relationship with Him is not based on the works we do or don’t do. No, because I have a relationship with Him which is based on love, it arouses and stirs in me a desire to do good works. His love for me and in me stirs me to witness, to pray for the sick and move in the same compassion Jesus moved in. It stirs in me the desire to reach out and extend His love through my life. Our lives become a river bed for His everlasting love to flow through to our broken and hurting world around us and it is exactly what the world needs – LOVE! Our lives and good works are an extension of a love relationship.

I am resolved that the knowledge of God’s love for us must be the first thread of truth woven into the inner depths of our hearts, it must be the first seed sown onto the ground of our hearts and then watch as the revelation of this truth takes hold and becomes rooted, grows and develops into a bloom which manifests the sweet smelling fragrance of the Father’s love. A healthy relationship with the Father all begins and develops out of knowing who your Father God is for who He really is and not the God that religion has brush-stroked Him to be.

You may be confused with my use of the word ‘religion’ and you may be asking, isn’t Christianity a religion? In my view – no, it isn’t! Everything outside of the born-again Christian faith is a religion. We, as Christians, are not in a religion, we are in a relationship with a living, loving God who wants to make our hearts His home. He loves us, cares about us, wants an intimate relationship with us and is committed to our success in life.

Some religions are a combination of God’s Word mixed with man’s views and opinions and/ or God’s Word that has been twisted and taught incorrectly. Even within the born-again Christian faith, religiosity is running its course, turning it into a list of rules and regulations of do’s and don’ts in order to be right with God and thereby leaving one trying to earn their salvation or live in a vicious cycle of striving to hold onto and keep one’s salvation resulting in the fear of never knowing from one day to the next whether you have done enough to secure your salvation or not. Religion is largely performance, behaviour and works-orientated and therefore all focus falls on you to perform. If you perform well, then you feel good, but if you don’t perform well, then you feel shame, guilt and condemnation. You never feel approved or good enough, which results in living a defeated Christian life and many born-again Christians have fallen prey to the contamination of religiosity which separates them from a relationship with God based on faith, trust and love alone. More focus is on self rather than the one who is the capstone and cornerstone of our faith – Jesus.

Christianity is all focus and trust in Jesus and His performance 2000 years ago at the cross. We never trust or depend on ourselves, but only in Jesus and His finished work at the cross – His death, His burial and His resurrection from the dead. We live our lives out of the victorious work of Jesus and therefore we are never victims, but only victors in Christ. Living out of Jesus’ life takes the pressure off of us to perform and earn or keep our salvation. We simply believe in Jesus and what He did for us in our place – MUCH EASIER!

There is NOTHING complicated about the Gospel, it is beautifully simple and the greatest act of love towards man. You only need to believe in His act of love towards you and receive it in Jesus Name.

Ephesians 2: 8-9 (KJV)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.


More from Joanne Richards
Time to Shine
Isaiah 60: 1-2 (KJV) “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *