Does our emphasis on what people “do” overshadow a truth that comes before obedience to God?
We too easily lose sight of the fact that a life that doesn’t please God is not based on acts but on allegiance.
Actions reveal allegiance.
Perhaps this is part of why Jesus said that the greatest commandment of the Law to be, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). It’s not a negative (Thou shall not), but a call to relational devotion to God.
Rejecting God is first described on a relation level – “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Romans 1:21).
It all starts with a turning of the heart away from the Creator and Redeemer.
Why do people refuse to believe in God?
Consider Jesus’ words, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35 cf. John 4:14).
Belief is not merely an agreement with facts about God and truth. It’s a matter of appetite, of longing, of hungering and thirsting and finding satisfaction and fulfillment in our Creator and Redeemer.
Belief is turning to Jesus as the source of nourishment for life (tasting and seeing). Many people think correctly about God without turning to Jesus this way.
The most important spiritual lesson
The most important spiritual lesson is the reality of our relational dependance as creatures. It is to learn is that, “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3-4).
Augustine prayed, “Hearts are restless until they find their rest in You…” Hearts are also hungry until they find satisfaction in God; Hearts are thirsty until quenched by God.
Unbelief is a turning of one’s heart away from God to search for satisfaction from something or someone else.
- “Unbelief is a failure to be satisfied in Jesus. It’s a failure to go to him as the living water and the bread from heaven and the light of the world. It’s a failure to go to him as a satisfaction that’s deep enough and strong enough to satisfy me when I am tempted to go in a sinful direction to indulge an appetite” – John Piper
- How should this relate to our efforts to call others to faith in Christ?
- How does Acts 14:15-17 relate?
- How can we better emphasize the priority of allegiance before actions?
Think about this and discuss it with others.