I was asked many years ago when I had just given my life to Jesus, if I would still love and worship God even if He never did anything for me. It was a strange question, because of course He has already done so much, and will continue to do more than any of us deserve.
But the question was meant to make me think about the motives of my faith, and if I truly love and fear God no matter what I get out of it, just because He deserves my loyalty. If I only go to church, pray, do good deeds and even use faith to accomplish great miracles for the sake of my own benefit, I’m disrespecting God. If so, my faith is only a way to barter for blessings. There’s no relationship, no bond, no real love. It’s a greedy faith.
A sad story appeared on the news recently, a mother who was arrested for locking her three-year-old daughter out of the house. They found the little girl tired and dehydrated, knocking on the door, and crying to be let back in. She had been treated so harshly, and yet she still longed for her mother’s love. God will never, ever mistreat us, but we are the ones who mistreat Him. God wants us to be His children, loyal, loving, trusting, entwined and enmeshed in Him. Our own little ones love us to a fault, and even when we mess up they still love us and believe the best in us. A good parent feels that sense of awe to have the unconditional love of their child, because we all know we aren’t as perfect as they see us in their innocent eyes.
But God is so good, perfect in every way, loving and constantly sacrificing for us. If our faith springs from a bond of love with Him, we will have the Holy Spirit bubbling up from inside and all His fruit will be evident in us. We’ll want to demonstrate love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, patience, kindness, faith and self-control because it’s what He wants! We’ll have a natural hatred for evil because that’s what He hates. We’ll be ready to fight to defend Him because that bond won’t allow us to even think of abandoning Him. And even if there is the chance that He won’t come through for us (but He will, because He promises) we will still be faithful to Him—because it’s the right thing to do.
Christians who are still in that bartering phase with God, trying to earn brownie points with their goodness, fasting and prayers for big answers only when times get tough, and then coasting along when the crises are over, are not yet fully children of God. God’s love is always there for them, but their bond with Him is conditional. They keep God at arm’s length. How do you know if you really love and trust Him? You are willing to take risks for Him, whether He blesses you or not. You simply obey because He is worthy of your love. Period.
Strangely, it is when we reach that point of total surrender to Him that the authority of His name really takes root in us. Anger against evil and all the work of the devil blazes up higher, and the effectiveness of our warfare rises to another level. When we’re ready to serve to the death, we find new life—that’s what the new birth is all about! Weapons of warfare require total allegiance to our Lord. Shadrach Meshach and Abednego knew that and changed the heart of a king and his whole kingdom. Imagine what we could do today if all Christians took on that same kind of faith!
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 - MEV)