Friday, July 10, 2009

The Bible for "Sophisticated Dummies"

25At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. (Matthew 11:25)

Through storytelling and parables, Jesus made God’s truth more accessible and understandable to the common person. He taught in a way that did not require sophisticated theological scholarship to decipher the meaning behind His words. The Sermon on the Mount, for example, is beautiful in its simplicity. But on one occasion, Jesus made it even simpler. He was asked what is the greatest command of all. His response, found in Matthew 22:36-40, was so simple that anyone could understand. He said, “Love God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your soul.” Then He added, “the second greatest commandment is like the first, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.” Then came the clincher, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In a sweeping simplification of thousands of years of Jewish teaching, Jesus summed up God’s law in a way that anyone could understand.

Love God. Love your neighbor. That’s it. That’s the “Bible for (sophisticated) Dummies.” This must have been so refreshing and liberating to the common people who were used to being manipulated by the complexity of teachings coming from their religious leaders. (Incidentally, listen to what Jesus had to say about these teachers: “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them… Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves will not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” [Matt.23:4, 13]).

These two commands are commands that we must obey with our WHOLE being – totally and completely. They sit above the many detailed requirements of the Old Testament Law, as well as the books of the Prophets, because it recognizes that all forms of obedience to God must first and foremost flow out of our love for Him. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their legalism that was devoid of any love for God or for their fellow man, and He equated loving our neighbors with loving God. So then, if we truly love God, we will express it by loving our neighbors, and when we truly love our neighbors, it expresses our love for God.

There are some hurting people in our community who need an expression of compassion extended towards them that you are called to give.

Let’s be a different kind of church.

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