Today, we are treated to a guest post from Pete Trivanovich. Pete and his family are part of the Cromartie Table Group in Magnolia Creek. Pete has faithfully served as our set-up co-ordinator since we started The Springs.
For the religious Jews of Jesus’ day, there were over 600 laws/commandments that were to be followed. Jesus uses one of the most treasured passages from the Torah (Jewish Sacred Books), to reduce kingdom living to 2. Thanks Pete for showing us why this sacrilegious move by Jesus is so live-giving to us today!
Matthew 22:35-40 (also, Luke 10:25-28)
One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
I envision a TV show where a lawyer is cross examining the defendant and trying to trip him up by making something simple complex. The Nextel commercial “What if Firefighters ran the world” captures this so well.
My favorite line is “a lot of paper to say we need clean water”. Here we see Jesus doing the same thing when he takes the lawyer’s question and answers it like a 1st grader’s math assignment. Life is simple. How simple? Jesus says A + B = C: Love God plus love others = life.
Don’t you find that amazing? Jesus boils down all of the Law and all of the prophets, essentially the Old Testament, to these two things: Loving God & Loving others. In my copy of the Message, the Old Testament is just over 1700 pages. Wow! A lot of paper to say we need to do two things: Love God; Love others.
Seems to make it clear we had better spend some time getting this part right.
I think it is significant that Jesus places an order to these two commandments, in essence saying “first things first”- love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all your mind. Why? Because as I John 4:8 tells us, you cannot love your neighbor as yourself without knowing God, because God is love. He doesn’t just love, He is love. He is the embodiment of love. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Think on that for a while. Those just might be some of the most blunt and accusatory words in scripture: If you don’t love, you don’t know God. Period. End of story. Do not pass go, do not… well you get the point. Conversely, if you know God, then it will be evident through your love for others. Why? Because we were created in His image. Our love for others is a reflection of His heart and His love for us, not something we have to muster up and force ourselves to do.
Jesus sets before us a deeper, truer view of holiness that is motivated by a direct relationship with Himself. If our acts of love towards others are to count, to be worth doing, then they are not to be motivated out of obligation, or guilt, or because it is the ‘right’ thing to do, or even because it says to do it in the Bible. That’s the way the Pharisees operated and he told them that they didn’t get it. Matthew 7: 21-23 makes this clear: that it doesn’t matter what you do if you don’t KNOW Him. “We love, because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). Therefore, and it is so critical that you get this: The issues are first and foremost internal (our motives), before they are ever external (behaviors). My prayer is that you may know Jesus, really know Him, and the power of His resurrection. That in knowing Him, your heart will overflow with love towards others and you will truly be a Spring full of life. A + B = C