This Sunday, Jo Antonio pointed us toward an examination of our own heart and what we love. Jo said that our actions flow from what it is we love, so let’s spend some time digging into this with the help of some questions from the Gospel Fluency Handbook by Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connolly.
How do you define the word love? Pull out your phones and get some technical definitions. Do you have a more nuanced definition to offer? In what ways do you love according to your definition? In what ways do you receive love like this?
“What do you get most excited about? What has most captured your affections? Be honest for a moment. What is it? Who is it? And why has it or he or she captured your heart? And if your affections have been captured, how have you been affected? What do you do in light of your heart being captured? Most importantly, has Jesus captured your affections? Why or why not? Are you impressed with him? It will show, you know. If he has captured your affections, you will not be able to stop talking about him.”
These questions are similar to those that respected counselor Dr. David Powlison asks in his article, “X-Ray Questions.” Originally published in 1999, “each question circles around the same basic issue: Who or what is your functional God/god? Many of the questions simply derive from the verbs that relate you to God: love, trust, fear, hope, seek, obey, take refuge, and the like. Each verb holds out a lamp to guide us to Him who is way, truth, and life. But each verb also may be turned into a question, holding up a mirror to show us where we stray. Each question comes at the same general question. In individual situations – different times, places, people—one or another may be more appropriate and helpful. Different ways of formulating the motivation question will ring the bells of different people.” 3 Powlison’s article includes 35 questions; we’ve included 10 below. Choose at least five questions to answer honestly, and please don’t pretend that your answer to each one is truthfully “Jesus.” (Meaning, don’t answer how you think you should, answer with honesty.)
Think about the things you answered in Question #2: write a few of them in the left column below. In the middle column, write a few of the reasons that thing is so precious to you. Finally, in the right column, compare each one to Jesus: are you more impressed with, excited about, and affectionate toward that thing/person, or toward Jesus? Why do you think that is? Remember, these are not inherently negative or sinful things. We’re just looking at their place in our life, and in relation to Christ's place in our life.
What are some of the things that most amaze you, stir your affections for, and excite you about Jesus? What is about who he is, what he’s done in his life, death, and resurrection, that is especially “good news” to you right now? Write down at least five*, and pursue ways in the next few days to work through each with someone else—maybe with someone who follows Jesus and someone who doesn’t.
For each thing you wrote down, work as a group to point each other to truths in scripture which reinforce the beauty, sufficiency, and worthiness of Jesus over (and sometimes against) what we easily settle for loving more than him. Maybe write these down and meditate on them throughout the week.
As you ponder the person and work of Jesus, and your love for him, read—and pray that God will help you believe and rest in—this truth: “You will talk about [Jesus] if you love him. If you don’t, start talking about him, what’s he’s done, and what he’s done for you, and you will love him. And you’ll begin to see more and more clearly how wonderful his gospel is and how powerfully it works. As a result, you will talk about Jesus more and more. He is the best news there is.” Consider writing out your thoughts and prayers as you reflect.
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