Are we more covered?

Todd

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matt. 22:36-40

Isn’t it interesting that many Christians have part one down just fine, but struggle mightily with part two? And equally interesting, many anti-, pre- or non-Christians struggle with part one, but are often much more successful at part two.

Thankfully, we Christians have the grace and forgiveness of Jesus to cover us when we fail to live up to loving our neighbors.

I wonder though, once we have accepted that grace, aren’t we also covered if we struggle with loving God?

I’d like to think so. And I’d also like to think that this would have an impact on the way we share the gospel – starting with affirmation of action rather than condemnation of unbelief.

What do you think?
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11 Comments

  1. Andrea Anglin
    April 28, 2008 at 10:32 am — Reply

    Oh man! We just started a series at my church called Love God Love People and we discussed this just yesterday!

    First, yes, I believe we are covered by grace even when we struggle with loving God because struggling is different than outright rejection. All children rebel against and question their parents, why would it be any different with God? I think it’s natural to question God when things happen that make it hard to understand His plan.

    Yesterday the thing that caught me at church was the part about how …”All the Law and the Prophets HANG on these two commandments.” – Matt. 22:36-40. Basically God is telling us that everything we do, all the things in life that we want to do that is righteous and for God HAS to hang on the pegs of these two commandments – Love God Love People. The thing is that if you follow these two commandments the rest of the commandments will follow.

    Another awesome thing I’ve learned is to “view others through Christ’s eyes”. Imagine that. If you take the time to look at someone who is irritating, belligerent or arrogant through Christ’s eyes, those faults may seem more like symptoms like their parents were absent or abusive or they struggle with addiction or have low self-esteem. When you look at people the way Christ does, you see past their faults and into their hearts and it is easier to have compassion and give forgiveness when you have that perspective.

    I am so ON FIRE for this topic. I encourage everyone to check out our church’s sermon on this issue at http://www.gracepoint.com.

  2. Steven
    April 28, 2008 at 10:38 am — Reply

    Don’t you think if we really had part 1 down, the second part would be easy?

  3. April 28, 2008 at 10:41 am — Reply

    Great post, Todd. I’ve never really thought about the difference between the two parts of this verse and who finds what easier.

    But it’s true what you say. I especially love the last sentence … “I’d also like to think that this would have an impact on the way we share the gospel – starting with affirmation of action rather than condemnation of unbelief.”

    Right on, brother!

  4. April 28, 2008 at 10:52 am — Reply

    Steven, great question. I think that we’re taught about loving God more than we’re taught loving others. Maybe this isn’t globally true, but is only true from my experience. However, I know it’s easy for me to fall into a trap of feeling that I’m successfully loving God through my worship, acts of service and meditative time even while I get ticked and unkind toward a coworker or some random, terrible driver.

  5. Steven
    April 28, 2008 at 11:14 am — Reply

    You’re probably right about what many people are taught. And I think we can still get upset and make mistakes and still love the LORD, but oftentimes I wonder if we actually do love the LORD, or if we love to think that we’re righteous and others aren’t. Here’s an example:

    When I was about 15 or so (12 years ago) I was at a youth rally and a drama group was performing (not Theatron). Anyway, they did a contemporary retelling of the story of the Good Samaritan. The catch was, it wasn’t the Good Samaritan, it was the Good Gay person. When the audience started realizing what was going on people started walking out in droves. It struck me though. I realized in that instant that my categories of who could be good and who was a sinner were way off. I also still hurt inside everytime I think about all those people walking out of the auditorium, and I hate to think that maybe they walk out of situations like that in real life as well.

    So now I’ll confess this: my actions towards the sort of people who walked out of the auditorium, is often to walk out on them and to be angry with them, and to not love them. So I guess I haven’t really learned either. But I think if I could ever grasp what it truly means to love the LORD with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, then loving my neighbors would be easy.

  6. April 28, 2008 at 1:05 pm — Reply

    I was reading Hebrews 5 and it touches on this a bit. We need to first realize and truly understand our own brokenness

    1 Every high priest selected to represent men and women before God and offer sacrifices for their sins 2 should be able to deal gently with their failings, since he knows what it’s like from his own experience. 3 But that also means that he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as the people’s.

  7. April 28, 2008 at 2:34 pm — Reply

    Vince –

    What do you mean by “brokenness” (concretely, not in theological euphemisms like “sin”, please) and what would, in your opinion, constitute “truly understanding” it?

    Plus I’m not sure that the Hebrews 5 scripture speaks to the question Todd raised and that Steven exacerbates, i.e. are Christians not more likely to take their (imagined?) certainty that they love and are loved by God as an excuse to patronize others (whether that’s feeling free to curse at other drivers or “dealing gently” with “sinners”) rather than grasping that what Christ demands of them isn’t to follow his teachings and pass the test, but rather to love, like Him, God with all one’s being, no matter what that requires (like, maybe, challenging one’s assumptions about others and our own goodness vis-a-vis them… and there, I guess, Heb 5 does tie in).

    There has to be a reason that most non-Christians think of Christians as neither particularly godly nor loving, and I have the feeling it has to do with exactly this issue.

    This is a good question, Todd. I think we would all do well to struggle more with it.

  8. April 29, 2008 at 10:24 am — Reply

    Jonathan – I think you are right. Most Christians are viewed as close-minded, bigoted and even arrogant and that simply isn’t true of all of us.

    Sure, there are people who do that – not just the Fred Phelps types but an even more insidious kind of judgment where we feel superior to others but are better about disguising it.

    While I think it’s human nature to judge others against what we think is right or wrong, but I believe these commandments are the core of Christianity. Love God. Love People. It’s not easy to do either but at least in our journey to to our best, we get a little closer.

  9. April 29, 2008 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    […] Todd posted on a topic that I have been thinking a great deal about lately. This post is my comment on his post that got way too long to post as a comment. He posted the following verse & asked a few questions afterward. […]

  10. April 29, 2008 at 2:19 pm — Reply

    My comment got really really long, so I just made a post about it.

  11. Wutz
    August 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm — Reply

    This makes me think about a conversation I had the other day: I presented an argument saying that there will be more non-Christians in Heaven than there will be Christians.

    Most Christians (at least the ones I know) tend to be very judgmental and are more likely to “get the first part right” while not paying any mind to the second part.

    Do you think God is selfish? I’d say he probably isn’t. I’d go so far to say that he’s selfless and cares more about us loving our neighbors than us loving him. Using the thought process that God is in each one of us and by loving each other we’re loving God, I’d say that a non-Christian who just-so-happens to be a decent person and treats everyone with kindness has a better chance at Heaven than a “Christian” looking down their nose at the others around them.

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Are we more covered?