This morning I was reading what is generally called The Great Command in the Bible and a modern hymn started to play in my head:
You put Your love on the line,
To bear the weight of sin that was mine.
Washing my river of wrongs,
Into the sea of Your infinite love.
With arms held high,
Lord I give my life.
Knowing I’m found in Christ,
In Your love forever.
(Love on the Line, Hillsong Australia, 2015)
You can check it out if you’d like:
As we dig a little deeper while reading The Great Command, we see that our Lord is doing something that is brilliant as well as amazing. He is combining Scripture from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18:
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 22:37-40 NLT).”
Let’s check out the back story! The scene opens and some religious legalists are setting a trap for Jesus back in the day.
They are trying to make Jesus squirm! They are attempting to do this by asking him to state the most important of all the Hebraic laws.
Almost any answer will be laced with trouble. No matter which law Jesus quotes, the legalists will criticize him for overlooking the others and then open a can on him.
But, never in a million years did they see Jesus’ answer coming. What he did was combine two of the weightiest laws and the end result was the command to love God first and then neighbor.
The legalists were hemmed in at this point. There was no place left for them to turn.
Then Jesus issued the pièce de résistance. This is the whole shooting match. This is the whole nine yards.
Jesus said, “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments (Matthew 22:40 NLT).”
For you and for me, loving God and neighbor totally sums up God’s vision for our lives. And, to back up his own words, Jesus put his love on the line, bearing the weight of sin that was mine.
So, this brings me to a weighty conclusion. How often do we underestimate the power that we have over others?
And, no I am not talking about some maniacal, authoritarian stance but the power to change and interrupt the lives of others as we either offer or deny them love.
Routinely, I paraphrase Maya Angelou, “Others may forget what you say but they will never forget how you made them feel.” This is a sobering thought.
It is an incredible power that we have been handed through the grace of free will! We can choose to harm or heal. We can offer bitterness or blessings.
The best news is that we do not have to be perfect to pull this off! All we have to do is simply offer a posture of love and healing.
Of course, at times our pride will have to move to the back burner in order for us to take the high road and offer grace. But, is it better to always demand that we have our own way or to heal?
Today, perhaps more than any other century since Jesus arose, followers of Christ are called to love people that historically the Church has never reached. Today, perhaps The Great Command has never been more necessary in the world.
God the Father loves all people and He wants everyone to be saved. And, no matter how long we have served Christ or how short, God loves the world and, “God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11 NLT).”
In other words, nobody is entitled! All of us have missed the mark and have fallen short of perfection. We’re all in the same boat!
But…another way to look at this is that all of us are God’s favorites!
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples (John 13:34-35 NLT).”