Instead of reaching for ‘how much…’ questions, we are better asking, ‘what does Jesus deserve from me?’ We should take the focus off what we will do for Jesus, as though we are paying him back, and instead ask ourselves what Jesus deserves from us. Again, any answer that falls short of our whole selves is simply wrong.
If your wife tells you she loves you, if you value your features, I’d suggest you don’t respond to her declaration with, ‘how much do I need to love you in return?’ As far as love for your wife goes, most questions beginning with ‘how much do I need to…’ will not end well. And, let’s be honest, rightly so.
There are certain relationships where ‘how much’ is a perfectly valid question, of course. The relationship I have with every shopkeeper I try to engage in business pretty much starts and ends with that question. ‘How much does it cost?’ is about the only valid question in that scenario. But then, neither me nor any local shopkeepers are claiming to love one another. It is a mere business transaction and literally nothing more.
Which of these scenarios, do you think, more closely represents your relationship with Christ? Which, do you think, more closely mirrors your relationship to the local church? I am sure few of us would seriously argue for the latter. Jesus calls the church the apple of his eye and his bride. There is no doubt that Jesus is saying, ‘I love you’. If we wouldn’t ask our wife, ‘and exactly how much affection, and how much evidence of me loving you, will suffice, y’know, to have done my duty?’ I’m not sure what makes any of us think that is an appropriate thing to say to the Lord.