Summary: As followers of Christ we must become passionate about loving God and others.
Matthew 22:34 – 46 / The Great commandment
Intro: Doris and Buddy lived on a farm in rural Missouri. They had 8 kids in a little 3 bedroom house. Doris told me that when she was in the hospital having their 8th child her roommate asked her if they were catholic. Doris responded, “No. We’re just passionate Presbyterians!” --- Are you a passionate Presbyterian? What we treasure reflects our passion and we have a passion for what we consider to be our treasure. Passion is defined as A STRONG, EXTRAVAGANT FONDNESS, EHTHUSIASM, OR DESIRE FOR SOMETHING. Have we lost our PASSION for God?
I. There is a tremendous amount of confusion in our world today about what real love / passion is. We use the word “love” so casually, so carelessly.
A. A massively built woman with wild hair came storming into the clerk’s office, slammed the door and thrust a piece of paper at the clerk saying, “Did you or did you not issue this license for me to marry Jacob Jones?” The clerk answered, “Yes, why?” “Because he has escaped and I want to know what you plan to do about it!” --- LOVE?
B. TV shows have used the word to attract an audience: Love Connection, Love Boat, Love and War, Love American Style --- how often do you see real, selfless, sacrificial, committed, long-term love on these shows?
C. Sandra Palmer Carr in “The Upper Room” told about rocking her son, Boyd. “”Mommy, I’m in your eyes.” / Opening our lives to others means that we have them in our eyes. Our attention is focused on them in a caring way.
II. The last of 4 confrontations Jesus had with the religious authorities. Jesus laid down a complete definition of religion.
A. Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 5 SHEMA – “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
B. Heart, soul and strength are used interchangeably in Hebrew. We are to love God with all that we’ve got. It means total commitment and obedience to God. Develop a Passion for God.
C. Passionate about God = with everything you’ve got – Willing to follow our freely chosen master to whom we give total and complete allegiance, attention and adoration.
III. VS. 39 “And the 2nd is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Is actually quote of Lev. 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”
A. Like is not merely similar – it is of equal important, inseparable from the first. You don’t just love your neighbor; but you love them as you love yourself.
B. Love which leads to forgiveness, forces us to care, beckons generosity, and will not allow us to sit by ideally as others suffer. Love that recognizes that Christ did on the cross for us and calls us to share that story with everyone we with whom we come in contact.
C. As people and as a church we are easily distracted from showing that love. Too often the Church that is called to be Christ’s beacon of love, hope and grace in the world becomes a place of power struggles, turf ward and status quo. It becomes a place where Robert’s Rules of Order and the Book of Order and the way we have always done it trump the Greatest commandment. A place where we care less about people’s feelings and more about being right and being proper.
Conclu: Christianity is not about following rules and regulations. It is about living out our faith, it is about helping our neighbor, it is about welcoming all. It is about LOVE. Back to the “good old days” when people looked after each other and cared about and for each other. A time when people loved each other. ----- We are commanded by Christ to passionately love God AND our neighbor.
The time is now to leave the “frozen chosen” behind and become “passionate Presbyterians.”