“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus
These words outline the two great steps of faith in the Christian walk: loving God and loving others as yourself. All preparation for living and serving in this world must rise out of these words. They sum all our existence as God would have it to be.
The second command would be impossible to fulfill without the first! Any part of our lives held back from God is a part not available to others, thus hindering us from loving as we love ourselves. Therefore, we will first consider what loving God means.
Every little child begins life with self-awareness. Everything takes its meaning from the relationship to the child. We first learn to interpret life as it affects us. It is only later that we become aware of others and their needs but, it is the learning directed at ourselves that forms the foundation we need to reach out toward others. When we have problems with our self-concept, then we always have problems relating to others.
Foundational to the theme of honoring God and loving God is having a correct understanding of ourselves and the purpose of our existence. Why are we here? Is there any meaning to life? Is history an unfolding drama, or merely an unending circle of incoherent events? The leading philosophers of our time say the latter –
“There is no secret and no plan in history to be discovered” – G.N. Clark, Cambridge Univ.
“The universe is indifferent.” – Andre Maurois, French philosopher
“Each man exists in a water-tight compartment as an isolated individual in a purposeless universe” – Jean Paul Sartre, Educator
“We cannot claim to know the end goal of history. Therefore, the question of meaning in history has become meaningless.” – Rudolf Bultman, Theologian
However, God says different! Revelation chapter 5 pictures God sitting on His throne holding a scroll. The scroll contains the final acts of history, and it is firmly in His grasp. The Bible records in detail the beginning, continuum, and closing of this world’s history and it is in God’s control!
We vainly think that men like Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Caesar, or Napoleon are the architects of history but, they are not! All world leaders, both past and present, are but pawns in God’s plan. Nebuchadnezzar discovered this through God’s dealings with him and recorded it for all to read –
“The most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” – Daniel 4:25
Yet, most have never learned this so, they continue thinking the center of the historical stage is some great political movement, the richest nation, or the greatest military power. Our frequent fears of Russia’s or China’s military power clearly illustrates who we believe is controlling history.
Amidst all our fears God is saying “These cannot hold all the waters in the palm of their hand or count the grains of sand of this earth. I alone am in control of history, raising one leader up or putting down another. These are not the center or focus of history. The center of all history is a tiny hill, in a tiny country, located at the center of the world – Calvary!“
As Jesus hung on that cross, amid the taunts and jeers, He was –
- Before all things – Col. 1:17
- The Maker of all things – Jn. 1:3
- The Author of all history – Jn. 1:1-3
“He regulates the universe by the mighty power of His command” – Heb. 1:3
He created the entire cosmos for us. Without man it has no meaning, because there would be no one to appreciate it. And He created us for fellowship, first with Himself, then with other men. It is He alone who can unravel the thread of history and He alone who can open the scroll bringing history to its climax, which is the producing of a royal race of priests, a Bride for the Son of God to rule and reign with Him eternally. It is for this reason reason that –
“the entire cosmos is working together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” – Rom. 8:28
This is the God and this is the Lord that we should love with all our being. He created us, loved us, forgave us and shed His blood for us, and His heart has been broken for us. Hear His lament for us –
“I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face ” – Isa. 65:2
“Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing That you have forsaken the LORD your God, And the fear of Me is not in you,” Says the Lord GOD of hosts. For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; And you said, ‘I will not transgress,’ When on every high hill and under every green tree You lay down, playing the harlot. Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?” – Jer. 2:19-21
Do not think that these words apply only to Israel. We too have been His choice vine. We too have enjoyed His blessings as no other nation. We too have become a wild vine and degenerate. We have broken the covenant our forefathers made with Him.
Yes, as Jesus hung there on the cross, that Friday so long ago, He suffered as the children He loved and came to save turned against Him. He suffers today as well as believers fall away, they crucify Him afresh – Hebrews 6:6.
His name is often misused and despised today. Jesus is blasphemed in songs and in movies and His very own allow it! God’s commandments and teachings are called old fashioned and rebelled against. Some pay Him lip service on Sunday but, their hearts are far from Him. Some simply ignore Him and some, in ever growing numbers, openly reject Him turning to other gods such as Islam, Hinduism, or Humanism. Gross sins of fornication, adultery and divorce seem small in the shadow of the homosexual revolution or abortion. The unthinkable crime committed against these little ones is glibly rationalized away under the guise of women’s rights! Imagine how the more subtle sins of pride and covetousness are treated.
Many Christians are doing these things, then standing before God as if all were well. In our country, sin is so blatant that God does not have to search to find it.
“Also on your skirts is found The blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, But plainly on all these things. Yet you say, ‘Because I am innocent, Surely His anger shall turn from me.’ Behold, I will plead My case against you, Because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’ – Jer. 2:34,35
In all this and more God is ignored and rejected. His heart is broken and He is suffering still –
“Reproach has broken my heart, And I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; And for comforters, but I found none.” – Ps. 69:20
In this dark hour, as the whole world is crucifying Him afresh, will this be said of us? Shall we who have sought His comfort so often, refuse to comfort our God? Can we not do these simple things –
- As the prodigal son, we can come to Him with a contrite heart and repent for our waywardness and hardness of heart.
- We can honor His Name by bringing praises to Him with sincerity and with our whole hearts.
- We can stand up for Him when He is abased in this world! We can be like Gideon as he tore down the heathen altars. We can be like Jesus as He cleansed the Temple in His zeal for God.
- We can mourn with God for His creation that is rebelling against Him.
- And finally, we can dedicate ourselves to work to see the kingdom of our God established here on earth.
How do we love God? We love with covenant love, being faithful, and we love with sacrificial love, yielding to Him.