Love Changes Us

They became an abomination like the thing they loved. ~Hosea 9:10

Wow! Wow, did God ask a difficult thing of Hosea. Hosea was the only known writing prophet from the northern kingdom of Israel. He was called not only to speak the prophesies of God, but to model the message of His prophesies by intentionally marrying an unfaithful woman and repeatedly forgiving her and taking her back into his home and into his heart. This was to demonstrate God's love and desire to forgive a nation that had repeatedly turned away from Him to worship false gods whose rituals involved abominable practices. These idols that the people of Israel had come to love had changed the culture and the people themselves. The Israelites had changed from God's chosen, favored people into what God Himself declared to be an abomination.

Love feels like an emotion that only flows outward, but what you love changes who you are. The easiest example of this for me involves sports because I used to love the Kansas City Chiefs. My love for this football team first required that I forgive them for sporting the same colors and mascot theme as my high school's nemesis, the Wasilla Warriors. Next it determined what I filled my Sundays with because anything that happened in the NFL was potentially relevant. I had a KC sweatshirt, and baseball cap. I still have the cups and popcorn bowl, so it influenced what I wore and owned. I also had my head filled with sports trivia: records, rosters, schedules, coaches, positions etc. and I loved to talk football. I could knowledgeably talk about any team in the league-any NFL fan can! Now the point is not to claim that enjoying sports is wrong, but to acknowledge that what you love does affect what you do, what you think about, what you wear and what you own. It affects the gifts you receive, the knowledge you accumulate, and conversations you enjoy. MOST people are not made abominable in the sight of God by loving sports! If we love something more than God, however, it becomes an idol and a stumbling block.

What happens then when our idols are abominable? The Israelites were engaging in temple prostitution, orgies, self-laceration, and child sacrifice. What if our participation requires activities that are intolerable to God? When I was just starting college at UAF, three of us shared a car ride to Fairbanks for the weekend. Two of us were going to get some things set up for school, but a young man-whom I remember nothing else about- was going to spend the weekend with a witch he had met online. Even as an atheist I knew enough to be afraid for him. At the end of the weekend, we picked him up and he was physically unharmed, but he was wide-eyed and awed. He obviously believed that he had experienced something powerful and mystical, but he refused to tell us anything that had happened. Please pray for him and kids like him, it was over 20 years ago and I don't know what happened to him, I don't even know his name, but I do know that something dark touched his life that weekend.

Whether we focus our affections on things that seem to us to be innocuous like sports or dangerous like witchcraft, we are affected in a fundamental way. Love changes us, both for good and for ill. When we seek God, when we love Him more than anything else, we are improved. Here, the object of our devotion works a change in us that makes us more like Jesus. When we reflect on that which is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8) we are changed in who we are and in how we relate to the world.

For our own good God gave us His law. Jesus Himself, when asked, identified the first and greatest commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

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