Perhaps there is no sadder story to tell than that of an unrequited love, a love that only goes one way. How many movies have been made, how many books have been written and, more importantly, how many hearts of real people have been broken from the reality that they had feelings for another that the other did not have for them? As hard as this may be to understand, it’s even more difficult to comprehend why someone wouldn’t love God, who loved the world so much that “He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” In a month where the world tends to focus on love (or at least what they call love), we will take a few paragraphs to look at three biblical reasons why people don’t love God.
Reason 1—Ignorance (They Don’t Know)…If you’re looking for a good movie for Valentine’s Day (or any day for that matter) I highly recommend the film Fireproof. Starring Kirk Cameron, of Growing Pains fame, the movie tells the story of a firefighter whose marriage, due to his internet activity and various other thorny issues, is about to go up in smoke. Through the providential friendship of a coworker and the wisdom of a respected father, Cameron’s character goes from being an unbeliever who despised and disparaged his wife to becoming a Christian who cherishes and values her, willing to fight for the marriage he had previously been so ready to see fail. Cameron’s wife, also an unbeliever throughout much of the film, has been so hurt by her husband’s disrespect and wandering eyes that she takes off her wedding ring and convinces herself that it’s okay to be open to the advances of a doctor she works with at the hospital. Her husband begins to try to be nice to her at home, making her breakfast and coffee and other such things, but she doesn’t trust him anymore and won’t partake of nor believe in what she thinks is only a contrived change of heart. What she does believe in is an imaginary world where the grass is greener with this doctor that has seemingly taken such a shine to her. One climax of the movie comes when she goes to a medical center to check on getting a special bed for her mother who has been very ill. Much to her surprise, she discovers that the expensive bed has now been paid in full. Even more surprising is when she finds out that the price had been paid by her husband, not, as she had assumed, by the doctor that was piquing her interest. She turns away from the medical counter in tears, heart broken or perhaps better said heart melted, realizing that her husband, unbeknownst to her, had been showing her love in a powerful way…There are some people who don’t love God because they are ignorant of His love. He shows them His love with a sunrise every morning, a sunset every night, with breath in the lungs and a beating in the heart. Yet, somehow, someway, they are blinded to the goodness of the Almighty. So the Father sends His ultimate expression of love, that of the gift of His Son, who would die on a cross to take the sin penalty of all who would believe, making the way that we could be transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light and could spend an eternity in heaven instead of an eternity in hell. What is God’s plan of making people aware of this love? Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment and to empower His children to spread the message of the gospel to the ends of the world (John 16:8-10; Acts 1:8; Rom. 10:14-17). If you have been ignorant of the love of God, unversed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, now you’ve heard. I pray that you would repent of sin and put faith in Christ today.
Reason 2—Apathy (They Don’t Care)…One of the most famous teachings of our Lord is found in Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents. A wealthy man was going on a journey and left three of his servants with various sums of money. The first was given 5 talents, the second 2 talents, and the last was bestowed with 1 talent (a talent was worth about 6,000 days wages). The man returns after being gone an undisclosed amount of time and finds that the 5 talent man and the 2 talent man had used their talents (couldn’t resist the play on words here) to double what had been entrusted to them. The master congratulated these faithful servants and rewarded them openly and generously. Last, and least, the third servant, the one talent man, tells his tale. He presents back to the master the one talent that he had been given. When questioned why he hadn’t made efforts to garner some profit, the servant responded by saying that he knew the master was a hard man; so out of fear he had hid the talent in the ground and was now giving the master back what was his. Far from being happy with this explanation, the master responds by calling the man wicked and slothful and casts him into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This servant wasn’t ignorant, he knew; he just did not care! And the results were tragic indeed!…Apathy is one of the most destructive forces that could ever grasp a man, woman, or child in its sinister clutches. As a teacher, I’ve seen many a student sit in their desk and do absolutely nothing. It’s not that they’re not being taught, it’s not that not enough tax dollars are going to education, it’s not that they don’t know that they’re actions will lead to them failing the class; it’s that they simply just don’t care. Sadly, some (in fact most) of these students’ “I don’t care attitude” seems to run in the family, because despite the fact that teachers and administrators make multiple calls home, print up interims every three weeks and “snail mail” report cards home every nine weeks that request parent conferences; and regardless of the district’s investment in a Parentlink website that makes student grades electronically accessible with a few clinks of the mouse, very few parents of kids failing multiple subjects and kids receiving multiple disciplinary referrals care enough about their child to do anything about it…That being said, more sorrowful than seeing apathy in the course of my role as a school teacher, is seeing apathy in the course of my life as a pastor. There are people who have had the gospel of Jesus Christ ringing in their ears since the days of their childhood. They know the facts of the gospel, that we all deserve hell because of our sins, that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son, and that salvation can only be ours through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, and yet they do not respond in any way. They know the gospel, they know of the love of God; they simply don’t care. That’s hard to take. Perhaps harder still is seeing those who claim to have faith in Christ, those who would confidently declare that they are bound for Heaven if you were to ask them; yet they care nothing of reading God’s Word, have no devotion to prayer, are strangers to the doors of the church, judge rather than love their brothers and sisters in the Lord, dedicate little to none of their resources or talents to the furtherance of the kingdom of God, and never share the message of the gospel which they claim has saved their lives eternally with another soul. Now, salvation is not works based, and your thing and my thing in serving God may not be the same thing, but it is a trustworthy statement that apathy has no place in the life of the Christian. How can one who truly knows God’s love care so little about His commands, His people, His gospel, and His Word? (John 14:15; 1 John 4:20-21; 2 Cor. 5:13-15; John 14:23—please don’t be “apathetic” in looking up these references!) If you’ve heard the gospel message of the love of God and have been apathetic to respond, then it is my prayer that you would sense the urgency of repenting of sin and putting faith in Christ. If you’ve confessed faith in Christ but an honest look at your life, between you and God, would say to Him and is saying to others (whether you realize it or not) that you are manifesting little to no commitment to the Lord, then it is my prayer that you would repent, deny yourself, take up your cross and love Jesus with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Luke 9:23; Matt. 22:37).
Reason 3—Antipathy (They Hate God)…I had never really worked in a large company (or bureaucracy) until accepting a position in the public school system a little more than 5 years ago. I was working an open house night where parents and community members as well as students are invited in to meet the teachers and tour the building when I was introduced to a tension between a member of administration and one of the teachers. The assistant principal was complaining openly, to others primarily and to me peripherally, that she was so mad at this certain teacher who complained about everything she did, questioned all the decisions she made, and was trying to drive a wedge between her and the lead principal of the school. The assistant principal was convinced that this teacher was trying to take her position, and she had great antipathy (“hatred” might be a little too strong a word, but only a little!) towards this teacher…We’ve talked about people not loving God because they’re ignorant of His love or apathetic towards His gospel, but I believe the main reason people don’t love God is because they actually hate Him! You may think that’s a strong statement, but I make it on the authority of the Word of God. Jesus said very plainly to His disciples that “if the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before you” and then went on to declare that “he who hates Me hates My Father also” (John 15:18, 23). The world hated Jesus so much that they nailed Him to a cross, mercilessly crucifying the Lord of glory who had only come “doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38). Some might say that was then and this is now; we would never do that to Jesus today. But, let’s be honest, the last 2,000 years have only given man two millennia longer to further show their depravity. If the first coming of Jesus were to occur in present day instead of in yesteryear, a hating world would still call for His death. Why do people hate Christ you may ask? Because they’re convinced He’s trying to take their position! People want to be their own lord so they reject Jesus as Lord because He would take their place. The Bible, meant to tell of God’s love and truth, is rejected and ridiculed by people because they want to make their own rules and don’t want Anyone else telling them what to do. Man wants to be his own boss, his own judge, and his own way-maker, so they reject and hate Jesus who declares Himself to be the Lord, the Judge, and the only way to the Father! If you hate God today, know that whether you believe it or not, Jesus is Lord and you are not; God is God and you are not. Don’t try to hold on to a position that would only be yours in the delusion of your own mind. He will have no other gods before Him, those who try to take His place will have a ruinous fall, and those who conspire against Him and His Lordship will justly experience His ridicule and His wrath unless they repent (Exodus 20:3; Ezekiel 28:1-19; Psalm 2:1-12)…Let us love God because He has so dearly first loved us!