As I mentioned last week in a post, the past few months have been some of the most challenging months I’ve had in recent years. Having to undo mindsets, add new mindsets, and spending so much time thinking and praying about why I do what I do has been draining. Yet in this time I have come to know a deeper intimacy with Christ through the Holy Spirit that lives inside me.
I was talking to Him yesterday about my life, and what He wants me to do with it and it was then that He reminded me really the simplicity of what He has called me to do. He brought to remembrance this verse
“He (Jesus) answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27
As I remembered that verse I realized something. Sometimes I overcomplicate my faith. Ok not sometimes, many times. I sometimes attempt to dive so deep in to my beliefs that I overlook the simple, I overlook the most basic and important commandment that Jesus gave me, to Love God with everything I have.
A couple interesting things about this verse. First, Jesus covers every area of my body that is capable of love. He mentions the heart, the soul, the mind, and my strength. What does this mean? Well if I’m loving God with all of these things then I can not love anyone or anything on my own strength. Jesus didn’t say “Love God with your heart, but love friends with your mind”. No, instead Jesus is saying “Hey love me with everything inside of you, and then I will show you how to love the people and things in your life.
The second part of the verse is to love your neighbor as yourself. By neighbor, Jesus is not referring to your next door neighbor, but to literally anyone you come in to contact with. Notice here Jesus does not discriminate. You don’t read “love your neighbor (unless they’re gay) as yourself”.
You see sometimes we think that because we’ve been a “Christian” for however many years, that somehow there are things in the Bible that are so simple we don’t need to revisit them. We say to ourselves “Yeah yeah I know love God and love people”. If this was one of your first thoughts when you started reading, then you clearly don’t understand the depth of such a simple teaching. As followers of Jesus, everything hinges on these two commandments. Our views on the Bible, the Church, our doctrines, are all irrelevant if we can’t really grasp these two teachings first.
But there is a catch. You see these teachings are not as simple as we like to think. Yes it’s true they are simple ideas to grasp, but extremely deep and complex when it comes to applying them to our live. How am I (Tim Whitaker) suppose to love God with everything inside of me? What talent, relationship, passion do I have to give over to Him and allow Him (Jesus) to have? How do I love my neighbor when it gets really difficult? What happens when I don’t feel like loving anyone today? Well now this is where things can get deep.
See, keeping things simple is not always bad, in fact it is something I am in need of more often then not. However beyond simplicity usually lies complexity because life is complex. We as relational beings are not simple beings, we are all unique with a completely different set of preferences and personality traits. We can’t always expect simple answers to complex people.
In closing, it is essential for us as the Church to not overlook the simple teachings, the basic teachings that Christ gives us. If we can’t grab the two most important commandments of Christ, then we build our faith on false presumptions. Before anything, before the Bible, church, ministry, even people, we must understand that Christ calls us to first love Him with everything inside of us so He can then show us how to love our neighbor in the way we were designed to love them in the first place.