In today's society, there seems to be varying levels of Christianity. You see everything from those who "believe in God, just don't agree with the church," to the "lukewarm" (which I just talked about), to those who passionately seek Jesus, and then somewhere above all this are pastors and missionaries. But why so much variation? It certainly isn't Biblical; Jesus gives us one command, to love God first, others second, and yourselves third. He didn't tell us to love God when we want to, or when it fits our schedule. He didn't tell us to love only those we want to love (quite the opposite, actually. Luke 6:32-36). No, God commands us to love Him with every fiber of our being, in all situations, in all circumstances. He wants nothing less of us than complete, undying devotion. Obsession.
So where did we go wrong? I think much of it stems from a love of money. American was built on principles of greed and wealth. Industrial giants literally destroyed families through child labor and insane work hours, starved people through wages far below the poverty line, let workers get maimed or killed due to lack of safety measures in the factories. And why? So they could keep more money for themselves. And this is the mentality that has been instilled into the mind of every American since birth: work hard so you can get a good job, a beautiful wife, obedient children, and enough money to get everyone whatever they want. We have developed a sense of want; what can I do to get MYSELF more stuff. Instead, we need to learn to settle for less. What can I do to get OTHERS out of poverty.
It all comes down to an obsession with God, wanting nothing more than His love and His good graces. If we stop trying to get ourselves more and more, and instead give more and more so that we can let God provide for us, then we WILL see God moving in our lives. Francis Chan realized this and gave up his house, moving into one half the size, and donated all the proceeds to the poor. It is this kind of crazy, obsessed love for God that we just do not see enough of in this world--and this kind of crazy, obsessed love that we should all be striving for every day. And I'm sure some of you are thinking about all the things in your life that prevent you from having such a devoted relationship with God--your job, your family, your commitments. But Philippians 4:19 tells us that God will meet ALL your needs. You don't need to worry about how you will eat, because God will take care of it. If what you are doing glorifies God in every way, then you will be blessed, either here on earth or in Heaven. All God wants from you is your complete and utter devotion to Him.
So not everyone can just go and move to Africa to do missions work, and that's fine. Chances are, God has not called you to do that, and if He has, then you probably already are pursuing a relationship with Jesus and letting his path guide your life. But at home, there really is no excuse for you not to be spending time getting closer to the Lord. I'll be honest, this past year at A&M was often tough for me to have quiet times, in light of studying and hanging out. I kept telling myself that I just didn't have time, i didn't have time, but only after it got to the end of the day and suddenly I realized I had barely taken time to pray. And then looking back I would see the times that I had wasted doing nothing, waiting for class to start, sleeping in, taking naps, killing time on facebook. These were all excellent times that I could have used to get closer to God, and yet I didn't, and there really was no excuse for that other than I did not love God enough to spend even a little time in his Word and in devoted worship.
So my commission to you now, is to take some time to every day to get closer to God. Read the Bible and THINK about what God is telling you. Put on some worship music and get lost in it. Pray for things that have nothing to do with you. But above all, do it out of love. Isaiah 1 gives us a painfully sharp image of how God hates empty worship. Religious ritual literally disgusts God, makes him turn his ear from us and not even hear our prayers. We need to worship God out of love, in praise that someone who has created everything would want to draw near to someone as insignificant as you. We need to love God simply for being all that He is. Quiet times should never feel like a chore, and if they do then you need to spend some time in prayer for God to change your heart. And also, don't get down on yourself if you miss a day; rather know that there is no condemnation for you anymore because you live in Jesus, and just continue to grow closer to Him every day.