We recently saw our church receive new members, and one of the questions in the membership process really troubled me. The questions asked of prospective new members in front of the congregation are mostly “routine” from the Book of Church Order (they basically affirm that the potential members are Christians and have been baptised), but the last question has made me uncomfortable every time I hear it.
“Do you love Jesus with all your heart?”
Every single person who has been asked that question in front of the congregation has answered with a resounding “YES.”
But I don’t know if I could do the same. I know Matthew 22:37 tells me to love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind, and I believe that that is a good thing. I just don’t know if I could get up there and say honestly that I do it.
I want to love Jesus with all my heart, but do I?
I find I live more in a Romans 7 world – that which I want to do, I don’t do. I want to love Jesus that much, but my flesh wars against it. I find myself distracted and constantly having to call myself back to loving him.
I’ve struggled and struggled with this question for over a year. Recently, I was going through some papers and found a bulletin from my old church in New York with this prayer of confession inside:
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved thee with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in thy will,
and walk in thy ways,
to the glory of thy Name. Amen.
This is what I would have to affirm in front of the congregation. I’d have to tell them that I fail to do this on a daily basis, but that I trust God to forgive me for that because I am in Christ Jesus, and that produces more love for Jesus in me than trying hard ever could.
Thanks be to God for the gift of forgiveness in his Son, even if I don’t love that Son as I should.