teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name... psalm 86:11

Friday, July 15, 2011

love God, love others

Bare with me- it's a long one... It all started last Monday night when our Young Adult Life Group started a series on discipleship (led by my incredible husband, might I add)...  He had the nerve to give us homework for the week (who does that?!) of meditating on some of the passages we had discussed. So on Wednesday I was stuck on Matthew 22:34-40, I knew that's where God had me camping out.  I was praying that the Spirit would breath new life and relevance to this often quoted passage. And here's what I took away...

When Jesus answered their question with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul & strength”, he wasn’t coming up with some brilliant new line of thinking that was revolutionary to them.  His response was actually a statement that they all knew and knew well.  He was quoting the first line of the Shema from Deuteronomy 6.  In a way, it was a slap in their face- like he was saying “you think you know it all, well you should at least know this by now.” It was something they recited every day multiple times.  Their struggle is the same struggle we face now, though, in that we get so comfortable with the truth and with scripture that we go into “autopilot” and stop wrestling with it and allowing it to transform us. We think we've gleaned all their is to know from it so we move on to the next thing.  I wonder if sometimes we ask God questions- whether with manipulative motives like the Pharisees or with pure hearts- and He responds to us similarly with something “basic and elementary” that we’ve allowed to become an ineffective cliché.

Funny thing is, if you read Deut. 6, there is an element of discipleship contained within it.  It starts with impressing God’s truth on our own hearts but then branches out to include interacting with who God is and what he has to say when you’re with your children and in the home with the rest of your family and when you’re out living life, whoever you walk alongside with… it communal, it’s iron sharpening iron… creating a culture in your life of constantly dwelling on and discussing who God is.

Which leads us to Jesus’ second half of his response of “loving your neighbor as yourself”.  Again, he is quoting OT scripture that they would have known well- Levit. 19:18 says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”  I’m taking a little liberty in interpreting God’s tone when saying this, but I think it’s plain enough.  By ending with the statement “I am the LORD”, He’s not pulling the “I’m the parent and I said so” line.  I think he’s reminding us of who He is- his character and his role.  He is the LORD- Yahweh… It is his and his alone to distribute justice, whether through punishment or mercy. When we react with anything but love towards those around us, we’re saying that we know better than God.  We need to realize His holiness and goodness and pray that we can see people through His eyes, and not our own.  The more we learn to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, the more open we are to letting go of our own ego and seeing people the way that God sees them.

The last thing with this passage that strikes me is that Jesus is always responding to attacks and trick questions with scripture- this is just one example of many from the gospels.  2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped.” Jesus believed so much in the power of scripture that it was his number one weapon in conversations and debates.  He didn’t create a new system of beliefs or fancy rhetoric- he quoted what was already written.  When faced with questions or dilemmas, I don’t know why we feel like we have to give our two cents on everything or reword/repackage what the Bible says to be more effective or relevant.  Or for that matter, quote teachers or authors as our basis for truth over the actual Word of God?!  In relation to the discussion of discipleship, I think the challenge hidden in this particular passage is for us to get serious and passionate about the text of the Bible- we’re not going to mirror God’s heart in our lives and in our world unless we get to know His heart through dwelling on scripture. His word is our final authority.

So many challenges from these few verses... may we never settle in complacency or apethy, but rather constantly strive to have more and more the heart of our God...

No comments:

Post a Comment