“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22: 36-40.
The Christian life can seem so complex, but is it really? John Eldridge in his book Beautiful Outlaw talks about stripping away what he calls a “religious fog” from Jesus and helps us see His real personality. That is what people will fall in love with. You don’t need to be an expert in systemic theology or have the MDiv letters following your name to have a full and fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ.
We need to remember that Jesus had little use for religious scholars of that day, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Jesus spoke to the common man. He chose everyday people to spread the gospel throughout the world. His message was revolutionary yet simple. Paul said as much to the church in Corinth. “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NAS)
It becomes complicated when we lose sight of a certain simplicity that comes with knowing Him and being known by Him. We make it complicated when we try to interpret, rationalize, find loopholes and make exceptions. We pick and choose what Jesus says really applies to us and to what degree. So we overcomplicate things and lose the simplicity of simply doing what He says.
We have talked about this on many occasions but in Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus boils down the whole counsel of God into its purest and simplest form: love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s it. Simple. Love God. Love people. Nothing is done in this life that is not directly tied to these two things, and these two things are so interdependent upon each other that Jesus actually presents them as one thing. It’s the first thing that matters, and nothing else matters in its absence.
This is not to say that the Christian life can’t sometimes get messy. It can and it does. Jesus never once promised that our obedience would always lead to easy or comfortable places. To the contrary, He said “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). But this does not negate that He has been clear and simple with us on the front end. Love God above all today. Love and serve others. Then do it again tomorrow.
- What do you find most difficult about the Christian life?
- What can we do this week to keep it simple… love God and love others?