Friday, April 2, 2010

Following Jesus - The Good Samaritan

"What is written in the Law?" He (Jesus) replied. "How do you read it?"

He (the expert in the law) 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 10:26-27

What does the law say? This is a significant question, because the law of God is true. It is just. It is fair. It is good. Psalm 119:174-175 rejoices in God's law; "I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me."

Even as the answer, the right answer, is coming out of the expert's mouth, though, the problem with the law presents itself. The expert didn't see it. It is hard to see certain things when one is an expert. This is one of those "You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children" moments from Luke 10:21. Many people would see the problem, people humbled by the messes in their lives, their lack of education, money and opportunities, the daily struggle to put one foot in front of the other to get to tomorrow. But others miss it entirely.

The problem with this answer is that as easy as it is to say, it is monumentally hard to do. For today, let's just look at the first part. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. Notice all the "alls" in there? I think of God reading this, as I write about how hard it is to love Him, and I fill sick inside. It's not Him. It's us. I know He knows this, being all knowing and totally secure in His Godhood. I can't help but think, though, that it must hurt Him. His love is eternal. His pain over our lack of love must match the hugeness of His love, right?

It's not Him. It's us. He has every right and reason to ask for our undying, uncompromising, passionate, head-over-heels, forever love. He is glorious, powerful, all knowing, all seeing, all powerful, ever present and profoundly dedicated to us, His creation. He loves us. John 3:16 tells us the extent of His love; "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Today is Good Friday. Today is the day that God's giving hit it's absolute pinnacle. Today is the day that should make the careless quoting of the words, "Love the Lord your God..." die in our throats. This much? Do we love Him this much? With everything? With our all?

"I love you," is so easy to say. Close your eyes and see Jesus on the cross. Hear His cry, Father, why have You forsaken me? Hear His whisper, Father, forgive them... Know that He could not let you be lost to Him. Not then. Not now. Not ever. He wasn't a victim. He was ultimate power choosing pathetic weakness to display earth-shattering, mind-numbing, super-strength love for us.

The problem with the commandment, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, is that we don't love God enough. We love other things more. We love our own comfort. We love our own happiness. We love our own freedom. We love ourselves (and if you would argue that you do not love yourself, the very fact that you are arguing and honoring your own opinion rather than God's, proves that you do). Our love does not stack up to God's Good Friday love. That is the problem. And Good Friday is the solution. Jesus' death on the cross provided the sacrifice that we need. We cannot inherit our way into Heaven because we cannot keep the law. It's a lovely law. We just can't do it. Good Friday evidenced the love that saves us. Easter morning evidenced the power that made it possible. God loves us enough that He sent Jesus to die for us, and He is powerful enough that death could not hold Jesus down.

Once we recognize that words are not enough, we have a God that not only requires our devotion to Him, but is willing and eager to empower us to devote ourselves to Him. Our prayer should always be, "Lord God, if I ever utter the words, 'I love You', to you without integrity and truth, please let them die in my throat, to be replaced by, 'Forgive me Lord'. Today is a good day to say to God, "I want to love You more."

May it be, Lord. Amen.

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