Just to be sure, while my wife was traveling, I was given an exhaustive checklist of necessary tasks that should, by no means, be neglected. The fridge was an excellent place for this list. As I turned to walk from the refrigerator, unaware, the weak magnet let go, and the list fluttered to the ground, not resting until it lodged itself out of view under the bottom of the stove.
As I said, for a couple of days, all was really well. By day four though, evidences of the forgotten list began to reveal themselves. On the day before my wife’s return, I noticed something strange about the plants on the back porch. Once green and full of blooms, they now rested over the edges of their pots, and were a beautiful brownish color with their flowers comfortably positioned on the floor below. With no water, my wife’s plants were dead… and I was in trouble.
Honestly, this was about the tenth time that I have killed my wife’s plants. It’s one of those major blunders where there is no covering up your error. There is no remedy that will go undetected. I suppose I could have propped up the dead branches and stapled new flowers to them, but given time, these would wilt and die also with no live branches and roots to send their life-giving resources to them.
It has been said that our Christian growth is often like stapled-on flowers (and no, I didn’t attempt that). We recognize a deficiency in our spiritual life, and we begin to staple on flowers. Stapled-on flowers, in the Christian life, come in many forms. They may include ‘giving more money,’ ‘paying more attention to our sin,’ or placing ‘disciplines and activities in our lives.’ Sometimes they look like a commitment to read our Bible more, or pray more, or go to church more.
While none of these are bad things and each has their proper place in the believer’s life they are not God’s greatest desire for us. What God wants most… is for us to love Him. If there’s any question of this, take a stroll back through the Bible. What is the first and greatest commandment? (Luke 10)
The problem is we don’t have the ability to do that. We can’t even properly define this love God seeks, much less give it. That’s why we try to staple on flowers.
Religion we can do… and religion can tell us what to do. But it can’t tell us how to do it and it surely can’t empower us to do it. Religion tells us to love God with our all but only the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us the power to do it. Through Jesus, we not only can love God… it is the greatest desire of our heart, because we now have His heart.
Are you stapling flowers to dead branches today that will only wilt and die in time? Are you trying to find refuge in religion?
Or can you agree with the Psalmist today, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God (Psalm 42:1).” Can you relate with Paul when he expressed his greatest pursuit, “That I may know Him…” (Philippians 3:10)