Last week, I read the book The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis. In it, our unnamed narrator leaves Hell (named Grey Town) and enters into Heaven with a few other spirits alongside him. Each spirit is encountered by someone living inside of Heaven, and they attempt to bring their lost friends “into the mountains” to be united with God in Heaven.
One particular encounter in the book that was a gut punch to me was that of a woman, her brother, and her son. A woman from Hell is greeted by her brother from Heaven and they begin to talk and reminisce about life on earth. The woman begins to beg to be allowed into Heaven so that she can be united again with her young 10 year old boy. The brother exclaims that she must first accept Christ as Lord and serve Him, then she may be allowed to enter into Heaven, and as result, see her son again. The woman says, “Yes, yes, I will do that! I will do anything to see my boy again!” To which the brother bluntly replies, “No, it does not work like that. You must come to God for no other reason than to just be with Him. You are using God as a means to get to your son…to get what you want.”
I read and reread that exchange with great trepidation. Do I do that? Do I ever use God as a means to achieve something else? Do I serve God in hopes of getting an earthly reward, or do I serve God for no other reason than because I love Him? I think if we closely examine our hearts and our motivations, we may find something we do not want to see. Maybe I’ve been reading my Bible and praying more because I want that promotion. Perhaps the reason why I have been going to church every Sunday is so that God will reward me with better success.
Our motivations for coming to God, serving Him, and loving Him should only be because we love Him and want to be close to Him. Two verses to keep close to our hearts as we examine our motivations of service should be:
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
Ask yourself this, are you first and foremost seeking the Kingdom of God? Why are you doing the things you are doing? Are you serving God out of thanksgiving to Him for saving you while you were dead in your sins?
At the end of the day, never feel guilty for serving the church and/or God. Do not choose to not serve out of fear of improper motivations. Instead, in your dedication and service, seek first the Kingdom of God, and allow that and that alone to be your end goal. Obey God, love God, and serve God, because while we were dead in our sins, while we were enemies of His kingdom, and while we loved unrighteousness, He saved us and brought us into His family. May that be on the forefront of our minds each and every day!