Summary: Caring attitudes, caring actions, sharing a part of our life, that’s what it’s all about. It’s giving up a part of ourselves so that we can benefit others and dropping the selfish concerns of our sinful past. It’s showing God’s love for us through our a
A professor of theological ethics opened his class for the semester by reading a letter from a parent to a government official.
The parent complained that his son, who had received a good education, gone to all the right schools, and was headed for a good job as a lawyer, had gotten involved with a weird religious sect. The father continued that the members of this sect controlled his every move, told him whom to date and whom not to date (relationships), and had taken all of his money (sharing). The parent pleaded with the government official to do something about this strange religious group.
Then the professor asked the students, "Who is this letter describing?"
There was quite a debate, with the class discussing some off the wall group cults, like the Branch Dividend’s, or those who were going to join the spaceship at the tail of Haley’s Comet. After about 15 minutes of discussion, the Professor revealed that the letter was from a third century Roman parent, concerned about a group of people called.... Christians.
It doesn’t sound so weird now does it?
The greatest Command of loving God with everything you’ve got means that we’ve got to be willing to follow our freely chosen master to whom we give total and complete allegiance, attention, and adoration. When the command to love God this way was first given, it was surrounded by a context that demanded obedience. (Jeremy Houck, “Love Means Obediance”, http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=83630&libronix=1)
Christianity was groundbreaking back then. Where other religions were based on compliance with a set of directives, Christianity was different.
In our Gospel message this evening, we see another example where the Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus in an uncomfortable situation. They had 613 directives to clarify and comply with the Ten Commandments. They instituted these additional rules which ended up making life more complex, rather than the more simple guidelines that God had already established. They wanted a checklist to salvation; fill in the blanks, earn your trip to paradise. Instead, Jesus had a different answer. It all had to do with relationships, and sharing a part of ourselves.
Created for Relationships
Looking back to the beginning, in Genesis 1 and 2, God created the Universe and everything in it. Along with the material cosmos, God created man in the image of God. He created Adam, a creature capable of having a relationship with Him. But, in Genesis 3, man fell away from God and put a divider between the created and the creator. Since the fall, our Heavenly Father’s been working to restore that relationship and bring us back to Him.
The Ten Commandments were written to mend that broken relationship, and restore us to righteousness. Jesus’ two greatest commands weren’t changes to the God given Decalogue. Instead, it was the use of different language to explain and reiterate what was already there. It was a simple way to understand the past directives.
The two commands cannot be separated. They both speak about relationships. Just like the first part of the Ten Commandments speak about our relationship with God, and the later part about our relationship with those around us, the same is true with these two commandments.
Our Relationship with God
First, Jesus talks about our relationship with God. He created all of mankind. He created a thinking being who had his own ideas and his own feelings. He created a being who He could establish a relationship with, rather than a robot who would obey without question. He created man with the freedom to choose and the freedom to act.
But, God saw that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, so He created woman as well. He created Eve for Adam to have a relationship with. The first couple were in a unique position we don’t have today. They were able to walk through the Garden of Eden and enjoy face time with God Himself. But, He also gave them the opportunity to have children and grow relationships similar to the one He created.
God created mankind with the idea that as His children we could grow and develop. Just like our own children have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes, they also create relationships. All of mankind has these same feelings and relationships with God as well as those around them.
God wants a relationship. Not a passing acquaintance, but the full dedication of our heart, our soul and our body. He wants us to share ourselves as He’s shared Himself with us. As humans, we often do things for our parents and family to make them happy. We may do things to make them proud of our actions and to receive their approval. Our children often do the same things with us. They do things that make us smile. They dance, sing and give us unexpected hugs. Why? Because they want our approval. They want to share part of themselves with us.