Summary: This sermon is about the Great Commandment.
Recently Major League Baseball polled fans to see what they thought was the most memorable moment in baseball history. Was it Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard ‘round the world”? Was it Cal Ripkin’s consecutive games streak? Was it Nolan Ryan’s 7th no hitter when he was well past the age of 40? Could it be Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier?
A few years ago the NBA named its 50 greatest players of all time.
Who is the greatest? What’s the greatest? Who was the greatest president? Who was a better businessman, Bill Gates or Henry Ford? These are questions that have been hotly debated on various subjects for ages.
Turn with me to Matthew 22:34-40.
Jesus addresses our relationships, both vertical (with God) and horizontal (with others). What does it mean to love God? What does it mean to love others?
What does it mean to love God?
Jesus says this is the chief command, the big one.
There was great debate among the religious leaders of Jesus’ time about the Law. Which command was the greatest? One said this, and another said that. The religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus.
We have just seen this in the recent political season. I have had the privilege (or curse) of witnessing a large chunk of campaigns in three states. Living in the Kansas City area, we were exposes to political races in Kansas and Missouri. Now the last couple weeks have been able to observe politics in North Carolina. Candidates use the other’s words against them. Candidate “A” makes a comment during a speech, and Candidate “B” says something in an interview. Two days later both are distorting what the other said.
The religious leaders were trying to get Jesus to say something they could use against him. Jesus stepped up and answered the question. He hit it out of the park. Jesus quoted a passage that was familiar to his listeners. The Shema was a passage quoted by all good Jews daily:
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
We are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. But, what exactly does that mean?
Our heart is the center of our physical life. Everything we do should bring honor to God. The places we go should honor God. Whatever we do should demonstrate love for God. The heart is our source of passion.
Our soul is the essence of who we are. It is what makes us unique. It is the fiber of our being. Who we are, as a person, should be defined by our love of God.
Our mind is our intellect and thought life. This doesn’t mean we just sit around thinking about God. It means that God drives our thought life.
Love for God should drive our life. This love is more than affection it’s our desire. Everything we do should bring honor to God.
When I first began dating Tammy, I had a certain affectionate love for her. I didn’t love her with all my being. My affection looker our for her well being as long as it didn’t interfere with my well-being. Now my love for her seeks her well-being, even when it’s inconvenient for me.