Answer: Growing up in an Adventist home has some major advantages. But it doesn’t “guarantee” your personal choices or circumstances.
You also mentioned that your motivation for wanting to love Jesus is selfish—so you can go to heaven. I realize that most of our motivations can be traced to selfishness. I agree that a desire to go to heaven can be selfish. Did you realize, though, that heaven is all about Jesus? And if you aren’t into Jesus, going to heaven will be more like hell than heaven. And Jesus wouldn’t put you through that kind of eternal torment.
Your current experience might be the double life Paul describes in Romans 7: “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate” (verse 15, NLT).*
“When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway” (verse 19, NLT).
“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?” (verse 24, NLT).
“In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin” (verse 25, NLT).
So what’s a person to do? Paul provides the answer as his letter spills into Romans 8: “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (verse 1, NLT).
To “belong to Christ Jesus” means trusting Him instead of our natural sinfulness. Read all of Romans 8 to build up your hope. It ends with the promise that nothing is able to separate us from God’s love. Maybe you need to start thinking about God’s love for you, rather than your love for God. The reason you don’t feel badly about doing what’s wrong is because you’re not feeling love for Jesus.
Jesus told a story that might also relate to you. Two people owed money to the same person: one owed 500 pieces of silver, and the other owed 50. Neither could repay their debt, so the creditor forgave them both. Now, who will love the creditor more?
Of course, the one who’s been forgiven more. Jesus said, “Your heart will be where your treasure is” (Matthew 6:21, NCV).† So start investing, putting your treasure in Jesus, and your love for Him will grow. Your treasure is your time, your money, your friendships, and your out-of-school activities. Here are two ideas for investing in Jesus:
1. Dust off your Bible and start praying through the stories about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Pray or meditate on what it would’ve been like to be in the places of different people in the story.
2. Do something for somebody else, especially those who can’t pay you back or who don’t even know you did it. Try doing at least one thing each week.
If you start making these two investments, and after a month you don’t find any change in your love for Jesus, write to me again. Tell me about your investments, and let me know where your heart is headed.
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
†Texts credited to NCV are from the Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.