This post is the second in a series of three, ‘Christians or Disciples,’ by our friend Charles Kridiotis. You can read Charles’ first post HERE
There are two parts to the Great Commandment (or if you want you can make it a second command):
Love God with all your heart, soul, strength (Luke version), and mind.
Love others (as you would love yourself).
OUR PRIMARY FOCUS
There is no doubt that our primary focus is to love God – all who he is, including his ways. The second, which is like the first, is to love others.
In the Luke version (Luke 10:27 – 28) the Great Commandment is correctly stated by an expert in the Law who had questioned Jesus on how to inherit eternal life. Jesus had answered his question with a question – he did that quite often. What follows this man’s correct answer is quite damning, provocative, and challenging. Jesus says to him, “Do this and you will live!”
What Jesus said gets to the core of what true discipleship is all about: “Do this, and keep on doing this, loving God and loving others, and you will keep on living a full, true and joyous life” (my paraphrase). In saying this Jesus exposes the lie, hypocrisy, and self-deception of the Lawgivers, the Pharisees, and Sadducees, and dare I say, of many churchgoers, who know the fundamental requirements of God, but do not live it or do it.
Love for God cannot be divorced from acting on his words and instructions. This is one of the major problems in our “western” worldview: Because we “think it” or “know it” we think we have “done it.” No, we have not done it until we have “done it.”
OBEY MY COMMANDS
Any doubts concerning this call to obey what God says is set aside when Jesus, in John 14:15 and elsewhere, says “If you love me, obey my commands.” Notice the word is plural – meaning we cannot be selective in choosing just to practice the primary command and not carry out the others – You cannot say you love God and not love others (brothers, and others we are neighbours to). Indeed, it can be argued, that not doing the other things God calls us to do casts doubt on whether we truly love God with all our hearts, mind, soul, and strength. Ouch!
This is even more challenging when we consider the Great Commission:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18 – 20)
We will publish the third post in the series soon.