Summary: We are all obsessed by receiving love, it is natural, yet God wants us to radiate love, his love; but to radiate love we need to receive it. How and why should we do this?
This sermon was delivered to Holy Trinity in Ayr,
Ayrshire, Scotland on the 29th October 2017
(a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen.
This morning I want to talk to you about one of the most important but sometimes the most complex topic in the bible and that is the subject of love … loving God and loving others to be exact. … It is commonly known as the Great Commandment, where we attempt to love God and everyone else with all our hearts, all the time. … That is it, that’s all we are asked to do, nothing difficult there … yet, I wonder how long it will take for everyone in this congregation to break that commandment. … It will certainly or probably be before the end of this service.
I hope therefore this morning that I may be able to help a bit with this commandment, but notice I said, “I hope” … and I also said “a bit”, because it is a very difficult, if not impossible commandment to keep, as it summarises all the commandments, the ten great Commandments plus the 613 or so of the minor commandments … plus the teachings of Jesus all condensed into loving god and loving others with all our hearts. … I am not saying that we don’t try our best … oh yes we certainly try, but it is just so difficult to do, and do consistently. … Love God, ok, we like that one … but loving our neighbours … all of our neighbours, that is where the problems arise. … I think we will look at loving God first.
2. Loving God
In this passage, the Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus by asking their question in verse 36, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"… but Jesus was ready for them … because the Pharisees wanted Jesus to say that one commandment was greater than the all the rest, that way they could focus on keeping that one commandment, while playing lip service to the rest. Do you see what they were up to?
Jesus did, and so he answered them in verse 37 to “love the Lord thy God with all thy hearts, and with all thy souls, and with all thy minds”… and they did not like that answer. … You see they were obsessed with the outward appearance of keeping the commandments, and they were good at it, whereas this response focused on keeping the commandments within their hearts, without the demonstration. … Yes the Pharisees liked to demonstrate to their followers how holy they were, and at great lengths too, but their hearts, they were false, and Jesus could clearly see this, and this is what he was trying to get across to the Pharisee’s that their hearts were not pure, they were rotten to the core, even though their outward actions were seen to be holy and pure, and we all know how easily that can be done. … Yes Jesus certainly turned the tables on them by saying in verse 40 … “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments". ...
And you could even take this one step further and reduce it down to just one word … “love”, because Jesus is basically saying that if we truly love God, then we will love our neighbours and if we love our neighbours, then we will love God … they are both very closely linked, but in each case they radiate “love”. … 1st John 4:7 tells us to “love one another: for love is of God” … and because “God is love” and we as children of God, must radiate that love to others. … And we certainly don’t get the impression that the Pharisee’s were radiating love to their people … no we get the feeling they were seeking love from their people the love, the very life-force from the very people were commissioned to build up. … They were horrible people, but so transparent to Jesus, and so he wanted to expose them, and turn their wrong thinking or teaching around, and start to radiating love.
Our question this morning is how do we do that on a regular and consistent basis, because it is not easy, and it goes against how the world operates? … Well that is what Christianity is all about; it is about a process of turning us mere morals, sinful human beings into God like creatures … creatures who radiate his love, and who are ready to meet with him in heaven one day. … And such a process as we know does not happen instantly … and it certainly does not happen without pain … but it happens. … And yes we will never reach that perfection that God wants, but we are radically transformed into better Godlike beings … and this is the point where should shudder, at what we were like before we knew the Lord.