Posted by Anne Witton on Thursday, September 29, 2022 Under: Reflections
We tend to think of obsession as a bad thing. It conjures up images of creepy stalkers, or someone whose collection of ornamental pigs has got way out of hand. But what if it’s the object of obsession that’s the problem, rather than the strength of feeling itself? What if obsession with a person, hobby, job or goal is only unhealthy because they’re not designed to be where our ultimate satisfaction can be found?
I’ve definitely experienced unhealthy obsession, often with a particular person who I’ve put above everything else. You may know the feeling – when you keep thinking about them and find it difficult to think about anything else. When your whole life is ordered around them and they have a disproportionate influence on your thoughts and behaviour. I’ve realised that this isn’t good for me or them. It isn’t fair to put a friend in the place that only God should have and I’m not loving people well if I do that. But where do I go with my desire to be known, to worship, to love extravagantly, to share my life with another, to offer up devotion, to pour heart and soul into a relationship?
I recently read an old book called ‘The Expulsive Power of a New Affection’ by Thomas Chalmers, which is all about how the only thing that will pull us away from the joy of sin is experiencing the greater joy of Christ. Or to put it another way, the only thing that will overcome our obsessions with other people, work, status, family, money or whatever, is to have a greater obsession with God. (If you want to read the book, you can download a free PDF here).
It’s only just dawned on me that I’m allowed to be obsessed with God. I’m allowed to crave him. I’m allowed to desire him above everything else. And that’s because I was created to worship him and him alone. My life works when it is ordered around his desires for me. Everything else is false, dissatisfying and ultimately hopeless. I’m not talking about living in a Christian bubble, wearing Bible slogan t-shirts, singing ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ all the time and filling my house with Christian tat. It’s more about my heart posture. Who’s my best friend? Who do I want and need to spend the most time with? Who soothes my hurts and calms my anxious thoughts? Who do I share my most intimate secrets with? If the answer’s not Jesus then maybe I need to think about whether someone or something is taking his rightful place. We’re all created to worship and if we’re not worshipping God will will worship someone or something else.
Jesus was once asked about the greatest commandment and he quoted Deuteronomy 6: 5 in response “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22: 37, emphasis mine). That’s the kind of obsession I’m praying for. I want freedom. I want joy. I want healing. I want true happiness. I want to be who I am truly created to be. Only pursuing Jesus obsessively will get me there.
In : Reflections
Tags: obsession discipleship worship