Monday, 30 May 2011

The Greatest Commandment

Luke 10: 27 … “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, strength and mind” … “Love your neighbours as you love yourself.”

This command is said by Jesus to be the most important and very often we give it a little tick on our Christian checklist and continue on. What does it mean to love God with all you’re heart, soul, strength and mind? Is it putting Jesus above everything else in your life and making Him Lord of your life? Is it doing everything you do for God, as acts of worship?  Is it obeying the commands given to us in the Bible?

In Revelation 2, Jesus is speaking to the church in Ephesus, through the revelation He gave to John. Jesus starts off by commending them for all their good works, their perseverance in tough times, their intolerance for evil men, their endurance for the name of Christ and not growing weary.  This seems like quite an excellent church, well run, enduring, holding on to truth and the name of Jesus, not allowing the influence of evil to penetrate their community. The Ephesus church must have been feeling quite pleased until the BUT came. Jesus rebukes them for leaving their First love. Could they have missed the mark of the greatest commandment given to us? Their actions and deeds in the church were great; they followed the teachings in the Bible and stood strong for their beliefs, however when the heart behind these actions, the heart behind the church, was examined they were found to wanting. Could they of been to concerned about the works of the church? Were they too busy and in this lost their First Love? The end result for the church in Ephesus is that they don’t exist today, a warning given by Jesus if they did not repent and give their hearts fully back to him.

This was quite a scary letter given to the church, showing the importance of where our hearts are while we go about our works. We need to examine our hearts all the time and not get caught in the trap of ‘the more work we do and busier we are the better.’ Love supersedes all the works, gifting and experiences – love is there till the end. We are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is the greatest, that it never fails and that we don’t gain much from our actions without love. Jesus loved across race, across culture and across divides. Jesus loved the lonely, the hurt, the outcast, and even those that were considered hard to love. Importantly though, in all that loving and in all that work that Jesus did on this earth, He didn’t forget His Father and He stayed connected to God through love – perfect, pure, unconditional love.

Maybe that’s why Jesus responded when asked what the greatest command was, saying it is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. The second most important commandment being that we are to love others as you love yourself.
Through loving Christ and ensuring our hearts are sold out for Him, it will overflow into our lives, be it in works, outreach, or any daily thing. The love of Christ cannot be kept in when Jesus is our First Love, it would be like trying to put a lid on an erupting volcano, that lid is going to go flying.

Examine your heart daily; be careful not to get caught up in works or just making God another piece of your life that finds its place on Sundays, in a scheduled quite time, or a weekly ministry. God doesn’t want to be a part of your life, He wants your life; for whoever loses their life for the sake of Christ will find it (Matt 10:39).
The war was won by the love of Christ, which is available to us to bring transformation in our lives and to be used by us to transform this world.

Love is kind, patient, never jealous, never boastful, never proud or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered and it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Love rejoices in the truth, it is supportive, loyal, hopeful and trusting. Love never fails!  (1 Corinthians 13).


We are not worthy to gather up the crumbs under his table, however we curse him, ignore him, turn our backs on him and reject him over and over again. Yet God accepts us for who we are.  In fact, not only does he accept us but he specifically chose us for His divine purpose!
“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you” (Isaiah 43:4)

Why is it then that we struggle to accept others; when the God of the entire universe is able to call us “precious”, “honourable” and even offers us His unconditional love? Us, the ones who hate people based on colour, language, social status and any difference that makes people uncomfortable.

In today’s society we are finding it more and more difficult to accept others because we have become so conditioned to thinking the way the world wants us to think.  We constantly judge others according to worldly standards: the clothes people wear, how much money they have, what they look like, the material possessions they have, where they live, their disabilities, language, race …

Often we are afraid to be seen with certain people or to show them acceptance because we are afraid of what others might think of us or that we ourselves may be rejected!

Jesus came to earth to live among us, so that He could show us the way that we should be living as people of God.  He wasn’t afraid to reach out to lepers, tax collectors, the demon possessed –people who in those times were seen as being a disgrace to society, the lowest of the low.  Jesus embraced them all with open arms.

In Luke 16:15 Jesus says “you are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your heart.  What is highly valued among men is detestable in Gods sight.”

So if we, as children of God, want to follow his example by showing love and acceptance towards all people, we need to start changing the way we think.  “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”(Romans 12:2).  We need to start seeing other people the way that Jesus sees them and to “stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment” (John 7:24). No matter what the social norm is around you toward a person, type of people or even race; we need to, as Christians, stand up for the rejected and downcast. 

“Therefore as Gods chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14)

If you do this you will truly be living for God and you don’t need to worry about what others think because God is on your side and He will never leave nor forsake you!
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

So go out and love as Christ loved; even if you might not understand a person or their ways, or even if they irritate and aggravate you. Rise above the differences and love, you are able with the help of the Holy Spirit. All people are loved by God, and He wants all to be saved; don't turn them away because they don't fit your 'mold'. 

*with help and insight from Kirsty Tapson