Summary: The Great Commandments give the church a clear and workable pattern for discipleship & spiritual development of the Saints.
THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS AND THE LOCAL CHURCH: Discipleship and Spiritual Growth
Sermon Objective: The great commandments provide MOTIVE, MANDATE, MISSION, AND A MEASURABLE PROCESS for the local church.
Three years ago, when we moved into the parsonage, we had a very small puppy. Bogey (our Cocker Spaniel) was all of 90 days old. Bogey had not only yet to be housetrained, he was not trained in any way whatsoever.
As you may recall our daughter was still in school at Trevecca Nazarene University and, so, we still had her 5 year old German Shepherd (Cayan) too.
Cayan, the Shepherd, has some unique qualities about her. For one, we never had to house break her. She was born and kenneled outside and from the time we brought her into the house, to this very day, she has chosen to do her “business” outside. She has also been a very territorial dog and rather quickly became familiar with the property boundaries and, to our delight, has preferred to stay within those boundaries rather than roam as many dogs do.
Now the new puppy, Bogey, displayed none of those admirable characteristics. Behind the parsonage (out past the property line in the back yard) there is a vast amount of open field; all the way back to the river. Bogey never seemed to know when he had gone too far.
I can remember letting Bogey out and how he would immediately begin to run and run and, before you knew it, was 200 yards from the house. I (and Cayan) would stand at the back door and watch this mindless puppy with a mixture of affection (Bogey has an infectious love for life) and chagrin (he didn’t return when we called him.) But I had an ace in the hole. You see, Cayan had maternal instincts toward this puppy and she was also a “shepherd” in more than name only. She tries to “herd” everything. If we take her on a hike she is always about 30 yards ahead checking things out and if there is a fork in the trail she will try to choose which one we take by nudging “herding” us onto the trail she selects. Well, Cayan would stand beside me very obediently as we watched Bogey’s exploits but she would fidget and grunt with anxiety. It was fascinating to watch. After calling for Bogey a few times I would merely look at Cayan and say “got get him” and her mothering instincts would kick in; she would sprint out to where Bogey was and, with her nose, she would somewhat forcefully knock Bogey off of his feet. She would then begin to trot back towards the house and Bogey would follow.
If I let Bogey and Cayan outside at the same time she would do the same. If the puppy wandered too far away she would dart to where he was, knock him off his feet, and together they would trot back inside the property line. Soon Bogey learned the boundaries.
House-training Bogey was relatively easy too. In this too, Bogey followed Cayan’s lead.
I tell you this story because, in many respects, it is a parable of discipleship. Cayan was using her instincts and training to help Bogey become the sort of dog that he needed to become. In the same way, the mature saints in Christ’s church are to model and lead the younger ones towards maturity; specifically by example but sometimes by appropriate nudges.
Just as Bogey still has the breeding characteristics of an American Cocker so Christ’s disciples still have their own passions and personalities but, by observing and instruction, they learn to think and become “Christian” in their character and conduct.
And with that we turn our attention, one last time, to the two greatest commandments. Within these two mandates we can extract a MEASURABLE PROCESS TOWADS SPIRITUAL MATURITY.
We don’t always look at Jesus’ great commands from this perspective but I am sure you would agree with me when I say these instructions inform the DEVELOPMENT, DEPLOYMENT, and DEPORTMENT of disciple-making.
Listen to the text.
The Greatest Commandment (12:28-34)
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself. ’There is no commandment greater than these."
32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."