If there were a battle between Netflix and Jesus, who would win?
I think it depends on what we’re expecting God to be and do for us.
God’s not a vending machine. There’s no “on-demand” feature with Him, even if I’m willing to pay extra to expedite my order. The pace of culture has gotten exponentially faster. I want satisfaction and I want it now. God’s never seemed to operate on our preferred timeline.
God doesn’t delay because He doesn’t care or because he’s a killjoy. He does what He does because he has better things for us (Psalm 16:11). But if God is always present to us and God’s love is always for us, then why don’t we always experience His love when we feel we want it or need it?
I can even make the choice to put down the remote (or the ice cream, pornography, social media, joint, etc.) and turn to God, but this doesn’t mean I’ll suddenly feel an overwhelmingly ecstatic pleasure from God. Why can’t we have bliss now?
I think it has something to do with our destiny.
As people of the Kingdom, we’re destined to experience the goodness and ecstasy of God’s love eternally. But we’re not destined to be just eternal consumers, laying about in heaven like spoiled royalty. We’re also destined to love God and each other.
We’re even meant to become ones who love like He loves—with a self-donating love.
To come to love like Jesus loves, we first have to receive His love (1 John 4:19), true enough. And if we are to come to love like He loves, we will also have to…well, learn to love like He loves. This can only come about with our willing participation. In other words, to come to love like Jesus loves, we have to do something.
Wait, isn’t that opposed to grace? No, as Dallas Willard wrote, grace is opposed to earning, it’s not opposed to effort. For our love to be self-donating love, God cannot force us any more than a man can force a woman to love him.
If we are to love Him, our own free will has to be left fully intact. God will help us, He’ll give us all we need. He’ll even give us Himself over and over, as we know He already has on the cross. But He won’t make us love Him.
This is why, I believe, God withholds at least sometimes the experience, the rapture, the feelings of bliss that come with His love. For our love to be formed into true love, it must become more than an emotional response, more than what we give when we can hardly help ourselves. Said differently, for us to become who He created us to be, we must learn to love Him for His own sake, even without the benefit of how He makes us feel.
He’s done the same for us on the cross.
In our hearts and lives, there is a battle between a faulty view of Jesus who is supposed to give us what we want when we want it—and Jesus Himself.
Jesus, I confess I’ve been pointing the remote at you, as though You’re Netflix– insisting You make me feel good now and doubting Your presence and Your love when you don’t. I come to You now asking for help with my will. I do love you, Jesus. I do. I will.
Question: What can you do when you don’t feel God’s love to express your love for Him nonetheless?
Learning to love,