Summary: Maybe the Beatles were right. In a world that shifts constantly, what principle do we rely on to guide us? A classic question with a timeless response. Love God and love one another.
You can hear the sermon on my podcast here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/697261/4831982
• Our world is full of contradictory direction giving. Particularly now.
o Mask, no mask?
o Go out in public, stay home?
o Kids go to school or not?
o The problem with this situation is that deciding which directive to follow could very well be the difference between illness (or even death) and life.
• We’re asking on an existential level, “what must I do to live?”
• What is the overarching principle to rely on when you and I are trying to make decisions on how to live life successfully when there are so many competing points of view?
• What do you rely on when one family member or friend looks at you weird for your choices - especially right now?
• The question to Jesus from a lawyer.
o Answer: Love God and love others.
• Matches Jesus’ own answer Mk. 12. We cannot love God without loving others and vice-versa.
How Do I Love God?
Deuteronomy 6:4–5 “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
• Repeated throughout Deut.
o Heart - Feelings, desires that motivate us. More than sentimentality. Illus: an athlete’s “heart.”
o Mind - Our will as well as intellectual capacity.
o Soul - Energy, our life force, moves us to action. Easily seen in our toddler children and grandchildren.
o Strength - More than muscles - it’s all of our resources we can utilize: money, time, influence, networks.
• Main Idea: Love God with everything.
o Q: How much of “all” of these are we giving to God? They are so interconnected. When we withhold a part of any of these integrated elements of life, we shortchange some/the rest of the others.
o We can’t claim to love God when we withhold parts of ourselves from Him (this is important in application in a minute)
Deuteronomy 10:12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.
• Fear, walk, love, serve. ( all aspects of our relationship with God)
John 14:15 15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.
• Love is an action, not an emotion.
o Illus: when a spouse claims to love the other but does nothing to support them, that’s not love.
• To be clear: We can’t physically manifest this kind of love for God directly to his Person.
• This is where the 2nd command gains relevance.
Mark 12:31 (NLT) 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
The Tangible Way to Love God is to Love Our Neighbors
Luke 10:29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
• Narrowest definition of “neighbor.” Who is “close enough” to me to be considered a neighbor? Who am I obligated to care for?
• Parable of the Good Samaritan.
• First two should have been “close enough” by way of race, religion, nationality.
• It was the one who was considered no neighbor at all who served in love.
• Jesus changes the question from who is a neighbor to “who is neighborly?”
• “Neighbor” isn’t those we like or get along with but that we serve those who surround us.
1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?
• We become the tangible hands and feet of Jesus (dirty hands leadership).
• By loving others we demonstrate that we love God.
• Roman Empire pandemic 249-262.
• [IMAGE} “Plague of Cyprian” after N. African bishop who wrote about it.
o 5k people/day were dying in Rome alone.
• Church reacted like first responders - running to the crisis instead of away.
o Opened “hospitals” to care for the dying.
o Fed people. Became the “nurses and doctors” of the pagan world.
• Pagans fled the cities as the plague leaving even their own dying families. They had no motivation to love their neighbors.
• This made such an impact that even a hundred years later a pagan emperor expressed shame over how pagan leaders responded to the disaster.
• It was the courage and the love of Christians in this moment that would propel Christianity to the forefront of the Roman world.
• We are at our best when we follow the greatest command to love our God with all our being and to give evidence to that love in how we love our neighbors as ourselves.
• We must be at our best in times like these.