|The Highest Earthly Bliss
Copyright 2010 by Shea Oakley
All rights reserved
The hope of the Christian even in this life is to share, however incompletely, in the infinite fountain of our Lord’s innate and perfect love. To share in God’s love, to somehow partake of it and become a conduit of that love to others; is this not our highest earthly bliss?
The only right motive for service is love of God and love of others. We know this explicitly from 1st Corinthians 13 which clearly tells us that all ministry that is completely bereft of true love is, by its very nature, of no avail to us. It is perhaps also of little value to its object. Despite this many of us continue to “do right” towards people without a right heart within ourselves. Often our motivation is anchored in the fear that if we do not serve others we are either poor Christians or, worse, not real believers at all. But few things are more misleading than false love provoked by fear. Such activity is not of God to the extent that the motivation of fear trumps the motivation of love. Some ministry, therefore, may not be true ministry at all.
That we are capable of this kind of false service is, of course, the bad news. The much better news is that, through Christ, every believer may gain access to the pure and inexhaustible love of the Father, both for us and others. As God’s children we can know His love through the conduit opened to us when the blood of his Son washed us clean and the resurrection power of that same Son gave us new life. The love of God is something we can now share in to the degree that we truly want it.
Actually, truth be told, the majority of Christians most likely have sometimes done the right thing for the wrong reason. In the end it does us no good to let a sense of guilt over our less than perfect motivation lead to a vicious cycle of guilty feelings compelling us to serve for the wrong reasons leading to more guilty feelings. It is the kindness of God that leads us towards real repentance in this area as in any other of the Christian life. It is Him first loving us that sets us free to love others from a sincere heart. As we receive love from this inexhaustible part of the divine nature we are filled to overflowing and then “naturally” pass that love onto others.
Of course this may sound too easy to those of us who are, like Hannah Hurnard’s famous character, “Much Afraid”. For us it often feels like even perfect love is somehow insufficient to drive our fear out of us, but this is a lie of the enemy of our souls that we have decided to accept. If we are willing to let Him our Lord will, in time, drive out the deepest fears from our hearts. A mustard seed of faith in the combination of his goodness and his omnipotence can start this process (one that, admittedly, is often life-long; especially if we have known great oppression or tragedy in our former existence.)
The key is desire and even that is, like faith, a gift of God. Once we have tasted of His love and the joy that comes from giving the overflow of that love away to other needy souls the desire can form in our hearts for more. Now we only need cultivate it by diligently seeking to know our Lord in greater and greater measure, a task also made worthwhile by the initial taste of God’s holy and infinite affection towards us.
Again, such an enduring filling of our hearts with divine love worth sharing is not an instantaneous event. It is progressive. It may last a lifetime and not be complete until He completes us the day we stand before Him and come to fully know Him as we are fully known. In the meantime we may struggle and struggle hard with our dying, fear-based flesh, but we need not despair because in the economy of sanctification the old cliché actually does hold true; love, God’s love, eventually conquers all.