Heeeeeeelllooooo 2019! Let me tell you something, New Year, your buddy that just retired was ROUGH. It seems like everyone and their dog was ready for 2018 to fly away so we could all get a fresh start. If you know anything about me, you know I love goals and, more specifically, accomplishing said goals. I’m the kind of person that has at least two planners at all times and is motivated by stickers. So you’d expect that I’d start this new year out with a post about my resolutions, right? It’s not like I haven’t done it before! (Woooo 2015) Well, despite my track record, this year, I don’t have a formal “2019 Resolutions” list (at least not yet). Yes, I still have my to do lists that seem to never end, but over the past few weeks, I have been reminded of something that I didn’t realize I had become apathetic towards: God’s Greatest Commandments.
I became clear of this message that God has been trying to get through to me on Sunday morning via a sermon by one of our wonderful pastors. A little background: in chapter 22 of the book of Matthew, a group of religious leaders were questioning Jesus to try and catch Him saying something that they could use to get rid of Him. Now, these guys have spent their whole lives memorizing the law. In fact, there are 613 laws that they had to know. Well, they decided to ask the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” in hopes that Jesus would finally slip up. There were 613 to choose from, after all! Which one would Jesus say?
Catch what He says: “37 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. 38 This is the great and first commandment.” This is kind of a no brainer for the religious leaders. A devout Jew would recite this commandment from Deuteronomy at least twice a day. But then catch what Jesus says as a follow up: “39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Go back and read that again, cause I had to a few times myself. Notice how Jesus didn’t say that going to church every sunday, or memorizing the most scripture, or raising your hands the most during worship time was the greatest commandment. He’s not wanting us to be the best looking holy Christian rolling into the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. In fact, it was the “holy” people Jesus was calling out time and time again. Jesus told us to love our neighbor, meaning every other being that has been created in the image of God. This doesn’t just include your best friend, your boyfriend, or your favorite aunt. This includes that boy that hurt you. This includes the girl who you know is talking behind your back. This includes the family member you can barely stand to be in the same room with at times. Regardless of religion (or lack thereof) a person professes, we as Christians are called to love God and love other people.
I know I have people who read this blog who do not share the same faith as me, and if you’re still reading this, hey, I appreciate you! For a moment though, let me talk to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
GUYS!!!!! Sometimes we need to flippin’ CHILL OUT. There are times when we can feel as if we are proclaiming Christ to be siding with a certain political party on Facebook or avoiding certain types of people in order to keep ourselves from stumbling. However, we immediately follow this up by shouting at others and “sharing prayer requests” for our wayward friends (aka, gossiping). I know so many people who have grown up in a church environment and have completely dropped God because of how negative Christians can be. There are times we need to get off our holy high horses and realize that regardless of whether or not a person is Muslim, Hindu, Agonistic or whatever other spiritual stance still has a soul. Jesus didn’t just die for people who believe in Him: He died for all of us. Yes, there is time where tough love is needed (I’m thickheaded, I need it often), but so often, we miss the point of our mission on earth. Genuine love has been thrown out the window, and we as the church must reclaim it and better represent the One we claim to be following.
I wrote this post over the course of two days, and in between those two days, I was hit with a situation that made me step back and reevaluate how I treat others. I was faced with a choice of whether or not to be hard-hearted or to extend the love I have been taught for years. Thoughts of, “I have no obligation to show love right now,” and “Someone else will take care of this; you don’t have to try and reach everyone” ran through my head. I had been hurt and had finally gotten over the pain I felt in high school, I was not about to step back into a realm where I could feel burned again. But then I remembered how unworthy I am of the love that has been lavished on me by my Heavenly Father. I remembered how God has brought people into my life over the past year to build me up when I have been at my lowest. I recalled how my Saviour suffered pain and heartache on my behalf. If Jesus decided to die for a messed up person like me, shouldn’t I be able to extend a humble love to my fellow man? So I got up, and did the best I could to love as I knew how. I don’t share this story to stroke my Christian-ego; I share it as an example that a person who has spent over twenty years in church still has issues with being active in loving others. Anyone who tells you being a Christian is easy is a liar and you should run far, far away from them.
Regardless of your beliefs, I am of the conviction that we need to do a better job of loving one another. I challenge you today: if you need to mend a bridge or reach out to someone you have had on your mind, stop ignoring that task. Be slower to anger and quicker to loving the people you cross paths with in life. I don’t know about your 2019 goals, but I know mine is this: to love more often as Christ has loved me.
Thanks for the inspiration, Steve.
Until Next Time,