There is Christianity, and then there is Christian culture. They are not the same. Loving the culture of church is not anywhere close to the same thing as loving Jesus. The Pharisees loved their religious culture—the long prayers, the solemn garments, the honor bestowed upon them for being members of the clergy. But they hated Jesus.

In fact, loving Jesus is considered optional. I know, it seems too hard to believe. But it’s really quite common. You don’t meet a lot of people, frankly, who are given over to loving Jesus. But they live a clean life, attend church faithfully, and are considered to be “good Christians.” Good grief—smoking or swearing would draw much more concern than ignoring God in most Christian circles. Do you see the problem here? They’re failing at the first and most important command of all—loving Jesus. It’s as if we think you can be a Christian, but being in love with God is optional. Sort of like extra credit.

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Question: Is loving Jesus the thing that is given most pulpit time, and most of the casual conversation here? Are most of the people here in love with Jesus? That’s pretty straightforward.

(Beautiful Outlaw, 194, 196, 197)

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