“If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph.” -John Piper
Affections in the Christian life are essential. Knowledge of the truth alone will not suffice. It is true that you can’t have the right affections without knowledge but it is also true that you can have all of the right knowledge without affections. The Lord has been pressing this upon my heart lately. I think sometimes in order to make sure we are holding to truth, and to avoid “emotional experiences” we miss beautiful affection for Christ. I have known about Jesus for 19 years. My affections for Christ have been maybe half of that time.
I believe that the thing that sets Christianity apart from any other religion is relationship. Can you think of any good relationship that can be had apart from affection for the other party? A desire to commune with God, earnestly and honestly, will stem from your affections. Any other motivation for it is works based. A desire to battle in the midst of temptation and have victory over sin will also stem from affections. A love for Christ that stems from being captivated by His love for us is where it begins.
So how do we have affections for Christ? Where do we begin? I want to draw out a parallel example about marriage, as it has been such a helpful picture in my mind for how it works. I hope it will serve my friends well too.
Years ago, I was really struggling with having affection for my husband. There wasn’t anything “wrong” in our marriage, but my affections and excitement about him had sort of felt dry. So I went back to the beginning. I started thinking about when we were dating and what it was that fueled that excitement and affection for him. Then it dawned on me. I spent SO much time thinking about him back then. It was constant. I would just sit in my room, listening to music (goo goo dolls, anyone??), and think about his green eyes. I would think about the way his cologne smelled. I would think about his hugs and recall conversations we had during the day. I would read his letters over and over, till the paper nearly fell apart. I would be anticipating time to talk with him, and when the phone would ring my heart would race. So I began to fuel my love for my husband by doing just that. Thinking about him, journaling about him. Thinking about the things that were my absolute favorite; recalling those green eyes to mind. 🙂 And wouldn’t you know it? Those affections came pouring back.
It is the same way with our relationship with Christ. Our affections will grow warm towards him as we think about Him. We have to go back to God’s word and read the gospels. See how he treated people. See his compassion and love. Read his prayers over us again and again. Remembering what he did for us. His sacrificial love. His dying for me before I was ever created and destined to be most unlovable. Remember your conversion.
Dwell some more.
Don’t stop dwelling until your heart is warm with affection for Christ.
“For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…” – Heb 3:14
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” – Heb 10:23
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” – John 15:9
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me…..I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” – John 17:20-24