I am very passionate about my faith, I believe in the power of Jesus Christ to bring healing and shalom to the chaos in the world around us. So that there is no misunderstanding, I also am strongly passionate about knowing and learning the Bible or as I refer to it, the text. It is the main connection to knowing who God is, who Jesus is, and how we can bring shalom to our world.
One of the passages I take very much to heart comes from Matthew 22:37-40: 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. 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.”
Ben Webb preached on this a few weeks ago and one of the things that struck me the most is that you cannot embrace either command without the other.
To love God means to love others.
This might seem to be an obvious statement and I am sure almost every churchgoer would agree to it on the surface but it needs to be put into practice… all the time, no exceptions, even to those we wouldn’t normally associate with.
This is so important to understand… when we claim to love Jesus yet the things we say, do, or post on social media do not reflect the love of Jesus we are then a stumbling block to other people. Ever wonder why so many people are turned off of the church? It’s not because they are afraid of Jesus… it is the lack of love and kindness to outsiders that makes people question why the church is even necessary.
Jesus calls us to love God by loving others.
Gay or straight
Muslim, Jew, Christian, or those who claim to have no belief in religion
citizen or immigrant
Read intently the four Gospels of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
Who does Jesus criticize the most? The religious leaders
and who receives his grace and kindness? Those who have sinned and those who struggle
Friends and anyone who may happen to read this and would consider yourself a follower of Jesus, we have to show love. That has to be at the forefront of everything. We can’t even begin to have a conversation about life struggles and sin if we haven’t built a relationship with people. Spouting rude comments on social media is not bringing the kingdom of God to earth, it does nothing to bring shalom.
I love that we have started the Christmas season in the genealogy in Matthew. Want to know why? Because the genealogy of Jesus is full of unmentionables.
Tamar—family incest, read her story in Genesis 38
Rahab—prostitute, read her story in Joshua 2
Ruth—Moabite, an immigrant to Israel Ruth
Uriah’s wife—Bathsheba committed adultery with King David then David commits murder, read the story here in 2 Samuel 11
Manasseh— a horrible King of Judah who sacrificed his own children to an idol, read about him in 2 Kings 21
For some reason, Matthew purposefully draws attention to these and so many more less than savory people in the line of Jesus. And I would suggest that he is writing to show us that Jesus the Messiah is for everyone. The mumzers or unmentionables, the marginalized, the weak, the sick, those that are struggling in life. Jesus came for all!
As followers of Jesus, we don’t get to decide who’s in or who’s out… we are called to love God and love others… All of the law and the prophets stand on these two commands, without these the rest don’t even matter!