I'm posting at The Internet Cafe Today....
When I was in high school, I was quite the goody-two-shoes, but as I've grown closer to God, I've begun to realize God isn't just interested in behavior, but heart motivation. I was the kind of kid who never wanted to do anything wrong for fear of "getting in trouble" or seeing the disapproval of the adults I admired and respected. I wanted to be good and I wanted others to think highly of me, so I followed the rules and did what was right. I was motivated by people pleasing, seeking the admiration of others and fearing their disapproval.
But, I was also motivated by the fear of consequences. I was pretty sure if I did something wrong, I would get caught and I didn't want to face punishment, so I stayed inside the lines. I'll never forget the film we watched in health class one day about the consequences of drug abuse. Stamped forever in my mind are the images of teenagers acting out of control to the point of becoming badly injured or even dead. I wouldn't touch drugs because in reality, I was afraid - afraid of what it might do to me. I was motivated by fear.
As a child, it may have been perfectly natural for my behavior to be motivated by fear of consequences or a desire to please my parents, but those motivations began to fail me in my early adulthood. I no longer believed that I would get caught for misbehavior, so why did it matter? I didn't think those consequences would happen to me, so I cut corners sometimes and smudged the lines between black and white. The only problem I still dealt with was my nagging conscience. All of my good behavior or guilty feelings came from the sense that Jesus was looking over my shoulder and He was disappointed.
My college friends had a skit that they performed for a large group meeting one night and it was very eye-opening. One student was sitting in his dorm room at night with his best friend, Jesus. As he planned his evening, he mentioned to Jesus that He might not want to come along. "There might be some things that You wouldn't approve of, and some language You wouldn't like, so You ought to just stay home tonight." The character playing Jesus insisted that wherever His friend went, He would go too. An argument ensued with the student telling Jesus He was welcome anywhere in his life, but just not THIS night, just not at THIS party. Jesus was insistent that it didn't matter where His friend was going or what His friend was doing, He would come along.
Reasoning with Jesus didn't seem to be working, so the student became physical. He grabbed Jesus and pushed Him up against the wall. As he explained one more time, that JESUS. WASN'T. INVITED! to this party, he slammed Jesus' hands up and hammered them into the wall in the shape of a cross.
The sad thing about this sketch is that Jesus didn't want to come along as a shadow hovering over the student's shoulder tisking his bad choices or shaking his head in disappointment. Jesus wanted to be with His friend, just as He wants to be with us even in our darkest moments.
Jesus wants to be invited into our temptations, not as a disapproving parent, but as a friend. So, I'm finally beginning to see that the best motivation for following God's ways is love. When I let Jesus in to those moments and tell Him that I honestly want to sin and I want to do something I know I shouldn't, He loves me and whispers encouragement to me and gives me the strength to make the right choices.
People say that love conquers all and I've finally seen that it really does. Love is what gives me the motivation to be done with sin in my life and give everything in my life to Jesus. When I let Jesus in (even into my temptations), I discovered the power of His love.