love God entirely (part 2)

The greatest commandment challenged the Scribe and it confronts us today. Do we really love God entirely or do we love God partially? Has anything else—even good things—eclipsed our love for God? While the Scribe may have wryly smiled and silently quoted the Shema in response to his question, “Which is the greatest command?” I believe we approach this text with the same familiarity. All of us claim to love God, but we struggle to love him wholeheartedly in our daily lives. So allow me to ask you some loaded questions that strive to apply this passage to our lives. These are good things—important issues—that can become more important than loving God.

Theological rightism – Christians who revel in doctrine and church history are similar to the Scribes who preserved the Torah. We are tempted to love what we know about God more than we love him. Do we love our knowledge and its pursuit or do we love his kingship and kingdom? We are tempted to find our identity in our theological correctness instead of the person and work of Christ. Do we love our theological tradition and heritage more than we love redemption accomplished and applied? We are tempted to disrespect people that we disagree with, withholding grace and humility. Do we love honoring ourselves among ourselves or do we humble ourselves before others? We are tempted to make secondary issues of primary importance. Do we love separation more than we love Biblical unity? May we cultivate a love for God that manifests itself in loving kindness—even when we agree to disagree. We must love God with our hearts and minds!

Moral perfectionism – Christians who emphasize personal holiness and standards resemble the Scribes who distanced themselves from other people. We are tempted to reduce holiness to self-righteousness. Do we love comparing ourselves to other people or the absolute holiness of God? We are tempted to make perfect holiness an attainable goal that we can achieve. God instructs us to be holy based upon Jesus’ righteousness alone. We cannot earn it. Do we love our determination and discipline or do we find our hope in God’s mercy and grace? We are tempted to control God and people through our moral performance, insisting that they owe us something. Instead, we owe God everything! Do we love perceived rights and demand rewards or do we humble ourselves under God’s righteousness? Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law, and he freely gives us his blessings. We deserve curses. May we become deeply aware of our sinfulness so that we can become totally dependent on God’s grace alone. We must love God with our whole lives!

Educated elitism – Christians who cherish knowledge, learning and teachers are like the Scribes who interpreted the Torah. We are tempted to make Christianity a classroom and focus on acquiring the right information. Do we love being know-it-alls or do we teach others what we know about God? We are tempted to consider ourselves meaty Christians and others milky Christians. Do we love what we have become or do we patiently develop more disciples? We are tempted to criticize other people as ignorant or uninformed. Do we love being self-appointed gurus or do we strive to learn from differing viewpoints? We are tempted to tell others that they are wrong and quickly dismiss them. Do we love the destination of discipleship or do we graciously shepherd people in the process? We are tempted to choose favorite teachers and discount teachers that do not suit our preferences. Do we love our teachers more than the content of their teaching? May we accept our Christian heritage and use it as a gift to bless other people—including every level of Christian growth and maturity. We must love God with all our abilities and resources!

Calvin, reflecting on Jesus response to the Scribe, remarks, “God does not rest satisfied with the outward appearance of works, but chiefly demands the inward feelings, that from a good root good fruits may grow.” The root (our hearts) and not the branches (our works) determine the health and vitality of the tree (our lives). The branches only reveal the root’s condition. Sadly, it is easy to sculpt perfect branches and paint dead leaves, when our roots need nourishment from Jesus. Loving God exclusively involves laying aside all else for the ultimate pursuit of God. And that changes everything!

Tags: , , , , ,

1 Response to "love God entirely (part 2)"

  • Noah says:
Leave a Comment