Can you sum it up?
Love ~ what it’s all about. Matthew 22.34-40
Yes, I heard all about it. The worst mass shooting in America’s young history—49 people ruthlessly mowed down like sitting ducks. And yes, I heard all about the Northern California minister’s cruel remarks in the days after, saying, ‘…because they were Sodomites, I am kinda upset that he didn’t finish the job…!’ Seriously, who could think such a thing, let alone say it aloud? Who could say such a thing, let alone a pastor?! Frankly, when I saw the pastor, I was surprised—young and Hispanic.1 Wait, not some old crotchedy guy waving around a crooked index finger? Un-uh.
Yet because this guy is a pastor of a Christian church, the cause of Christ takes another hit. Brings to mind Jesus on the cross; after wretched hours, his head falls forward on his chest. You can picture it I’m sure. In a similar vain, our Lord hangs his head yet again. How could a “minister” get it so wrong?
In two sentences, following emotionally-charged debates, Jesus sums up the priority of the Christian religion:
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22.34-40
The other day, when in Northern California, I had the sweet opportunity to visit my aunt and uncle—92 and 94 years of age, lifelong farmers. Seventy-two plus years of marriage, Christian parents, grand parents and great-grandparents of 28, they are the ultimate in role models – paragons of love. I got to talk to them about that, about regrets (if they have any) and their lives. It was a rich rich discussion which I will never forget. What matters in life? What lasts? Love. Love across the board.
So, how to think of it, how to embrace it as followers of Jesus Christ. The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.”2
After all, love is why God created us in the first place. God did not create us out of need. He created us out of his love.
God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that
he may love and perfect them.3
‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.’4
Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.5
We think that if we just had more faith, we would be great Christians, and perhaps we would. And for sure, our Christian lives without hope would render us impotent, but love … without it, we are useless.
Note that all the Christian graces will endure, even though ‘faith will become sight and hope will be fulfilled.’ But the greatest of these graces is love; because when you love someone, you will trust him and will always be anticipating new joys. Faith, hope, and love go together, but it is love that energizes faith and hope.6 And interestingly enough, this is why feeding our understanding of God’s love for us is so critical—‘you will trust him to the degree that you know you are loved by him.’7
Christian, you and I are meant for love and to love.
Find yourself love challenged?
Find it difficult to love those who are so different than you?
Find it difficult to feel compassion for those who are ‘un-lovely’?
Ask God to increase your love, and make you a person who daily prioritizes loving God first, and then loving others. Go ahead . . . ask him. Because love is what it’s all about.
Let’s you and I get up each day and endeavor to love God and love others.
1 – Intentionally not naming the man’s name or city
2 – 1 John 4.7
3 – John Ortberg – Love Beyond Reason; C.S. Lewis – The Four Loves
4 – St. Augustine
5 – 1 Corinthians 13.13
6 – Warren Wiersbe, NT Commentary
7 – Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust