First things first in this post – I got charged up last weekend and on Sunday. I received encouragement. God dealt with my heart in several ways. I’m responding to that dealing, and with His help and grace my life is changing by it. This post isn’t a rant. It’s as much for me as it is anybody. That said, let’s get started.
Throughout life, there are a lot of things we face that we could consider ‘grey’ areas. These are things that aren’t spelled out clearly in God’s Word, or questions that no one seems to have a definitive answer to. However, in Matthew, there is something spelled out as plainly as can possibly be done. In chapter 22, verses 37-40 tell us (emphasis added by me):
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
In this post, I want to focus mostly on the ‘first and great commandment.’ I included the last two verses to make a point, which I’ll do now. Because of the last verse, those grey areas I mentioned just a minute ago can be put to the test of these two commandments. In other words, ask yourself, “Is this decision dictated by my love for God?” Or if it affects your neighbor, ask yourself the same question in that context. By the way – your neighbor isn’t just the family that lives next door. If you can’t honestly answer the question with a definitive “Yes!” then you should probably reevaluate your decision.
The great thing about these verses is that they are extremely clear and concise. We’ve all heard things preached before, and as the preacher is reading the text, he’ll stop for a second and emphasize that what is being read isn’t exactly a suggestion. The wording of these verses takes care of that all by itself. Jesus Himself said these things are commandments. For sake of not leaving anything out, I’ll state the obvious: a commandment isn’t optional. It is something that must be done. It must be followed. In the military it’s called an order. If an order is ignored or disobeyed, a court martial is in order, and the one who failed to follow that order is punished, sometimes with a dishonorable discharge.
One of the things that has bothered me the most in my short life that I have seen in at least some people in any church I’ve ever been involved in is that they take church attendance so lightly. When it’s convenient, they will keep church at least near the top of the list of what’s important. However, when a ballgame or practice comes along, it trumps church. When the latest hot movie comes out, it trumps church. When a camping trip is what’s wanted, it trumps church. When the hot sale hits the stores, it trumps church.
Are these decisions being made in light of Jesus’ great commandment? The answer is an obvious and resounding, “No!” If we truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, we will have the greatest desire for Him! No one will ever convince me that they have the love for the Lord that they should when they constantly put church attendance below other activities. Church is where we have fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters, we are taught and preached to from God’s Word (another thing we should have a strong love for), and also where we go to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And we’re cutting that out of our lives to play a game?
These verses leave no room for improvement. It is a commandment. Not only is it a commandment, but it is a commandment that requires our all. It requires our utmost effort. It requires all of our attention. It requires all of our passion. If we truly put our all into loving the Lord as we should, there will be no room for anything else.
Is that a radical idea? Maybe. But it’s totally feasible. Every time I see a ballgame on TV, I see thousands of radical fans who make fools of themselves because of their love for their team.
Did I really just compare a love for a sports team with our love for God? It appears that’s what it’s come to in many, many people’s hearts and lives. God help us all.