August 13, 2007

Monday Morning Message - Love God, Love All

We have a tendency to make following God some long, complicated process when in fact it is anything but complex. Jesus was always cutting through the religious red tape and getting to the heart of the matter. We could use some cutting on the religious red tape of our lives.

Jesus was asked in Matthew 22, "What is the greatest commandment?" His reply, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and will all you soul, and all your mind...the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." It all boils down to loving God and loving your neighbor. Here's a simple secret, if you are loving God you will invariably begin loving your neighbor.

A few words about loving God. It is to be a passionate pursuit that moves us. The Hebrew concept of heart is nothing like a Valentine's day card. Literally it had to do with the guts. To love God with all your heart is to love Him with your guts. To love Him in such a way that it grips your innards and moves you. We've all had experiences like this (births, deaths, unexpected news, etc.) that have gripped our guts. Our love for God is to be that kind of love.

This love is also to engage every aspect of who we are. The concept of soul has very little to do with some ethereal entity that we equate with our soul. Soul for the Hebrew meant the totality of what made an individual uniquely them. To love God with all our soul means to love Him with everything we are.

Finally this love is to involve our mind. Love is, at its foundation, an act of the will. Love is a decision we make. Time and again in scripture we are called/invited to choose. Loving God is a matter of the will as we recognize that He is what we are really looking for and to look elsewhere would be foolish.

The second command, to love our neighbor as ourselves will invariably be a reflection of the love we have for God. The story of the Good Samaritan is well known but the point may easily be missed. In Luke 10 an expert in the law asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?". Jesus then tells the story of the Good Samaritan and asks the man "Who was the neighbor to the man?". The expert replies, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus' instructive reply is, "Go and do likewise." It's not who or who isn't a neighbor. It's not about labeling/judging/identifying people as neighbors or not neighbors. Jesus' clearly points to the man who asked the question and effectually says, "You be a neighbor."

Are you loving God heart, soul, and mind? Better yet, are you being a neighbor?

No comments: