Thesis: Loving God means loving your neighbor.
1. Illust. Imagine a football coach who has spent countless hours training his team. At times he has been discouraged by their lack of discipline. It has taken much longer to bring them to a peak than he had anticipated. Constant murmuring and bickering kept the team's focus off of football. AT LONG LAST the team is set and the hour has arrived for the first game. Team gathers in locker room. Coach announces he has been replaced--someone else has been assigned to lead the team. What would he say?
2. In a feeble way that illustrates setting for the book of Dt.
a. Israel is poised to enter the Promised Land.
1) Redeemed from Egypt.
2) Wandered in wilderness for 40 yrs.
3) Now they're finally ready to do it.
b. On plains of Moab--"How to make it in Promised Land."
3. The heart of the message of Dt. is revealed in 6:4-5.
a. This AM .... "What does it mean to love God?"
b. Deuteronomy provides an answer.
c. To find answer we must look at some odd & obscure laws.
I. SOME ODD AND OBSCURE LAWS IN DEUTERONOMY.
A. Ecomomic laws.
1. Making loans (23:19-20; 24:10-13).
2. Canceling debts (15:1-2, 9-10).
3. Freeing slaves (15:12-15).
4. Law of gleaning (24:19-22).
B. Rules of war.
1. All volunteer army (20:5-9; 24:5).
2. No "scortched earth" policy (20:19-20).
3. Capture of women (21:10-14).
1. Rules for lost and found (22:1-4).
2. Early building codes (22:8).
II. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THESE LAWS?
A. Most of these laws are irrelevant in their particulars.
1. Don't have slaves.
2. Don't take beautiful women captive in war.
3. Don't sleep on our roofs--don't need parapets!
B. It's the principle that lies behind these laws that make them the Word of God for us today (cf. Matt. 22:34-40).
1. Love of God cannot be separated from love of neighbor.
2. Read 1 John 4:19-21.
III. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LOVE GOD?
A. It means to love your neighbor. It means to treat other people--no matter who they are--with dignity and respect!
1. Treat them as people, not objects/things.
2. Illust. Harold Kushner in Who Needs God tells of a short story about the wife of a British colonel in India. She was expecting important guests for tea one afternoon. Looked out from her front porch after lunch & was horrified to see that the man who swept the leaves off her stairs every morning had not shown up for work. When he finally got there, she tore into him. "Don't you realize what you've done to me? Do you know who's coming here in an hour? I ought to fire you and see to it that you don't get another job anywhere in the city!" Without looking up the man said, "I'm sorry. My little girl died during the night and we had to bury her today." For the first time, the colonel's wife began to see this man as something more than just a device that swept her stairs every day. [Harold Kushner, Who Needs God (New York: Summit Books, 1989), p. 100.]
B. It's easy to treat people in a way that dishonors God--we can do it in small, subtle ways without even realizing it.
1. Ever pass $ to clerk/toll collector w/o noticing them?
2. Ever get mad at someone in line ahead of you at McDonald's who places a special order?
3. Do you systematically refuse to let other drivers ahead of you in a traffic merge?
4. Illust. Several weeks ago I ate at a crowded Saturday AM Shoney's breakfast bar. While standing in line, plate in hand, I stepped back to allow a worker to set out more food. Just then a short, rather large lady and a companion used that opportunity to begin edging their way in front of me. Knew what she was doing. I was exasperated! Finally said, "Go ahead, after you!" She didn't even turn around or acknowledge me! [Determined to take revenge--told Kathy I'd use her as a sermon illustration!] Later I noticed a bus outside. Figured she was on the bus and in a hurry to get seconds.
C. What does it mean to love God? It means to see other people as people, not some object taking up much-needed air space.
1. It means you smile at people.
2. It means you don't mock those who are different.
3. It means you're polite.
4. It means you hold doors open for others and let them in line ahead of you.
Thornton Wilder in "Our Town": "I don't care what they say with their mouths--everybody knows that something is eternal, and it ain't houses, and it ain't names, and it ain't earth, & it ain't even stars-- everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings ... there's something way down deep that's eternal about every human being."
Of course, if you love God--truly love him--you already know that.