Sermon Titled “What Is The Greatest Commandment?” (Matthew 22:37-38), based on Week 3 of the Experiencing God Study – Sunday 1st February, 2015
If there is one thing about God that we know from His word, it’s that He is a lover of relationships, and a pursuer of all who are willing to hear from Him. The Bible tells us in Revelations 3:20, that God knocks on the door of our hearts, longing for us to respond and let Him in. Then, when we give Him access to our lives, He goes about His work, tasking us with specially chosen assignments to help Him achieve His purposes, and we willingly obey because we love Him.
Sounds simple enough, but to truly respond to God’s love involves entering into a relationship with Him, and some Christians just aren’t ready for that, or they don’t know how to. They’re content with an “arms length” type of relationship, where attending church, doing “good,” and professing to believe in God feels more comfortable and convenient.
When Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment of all is, he replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment….” (Matthew 22:37). We are commanded to love God and to make Him our first priority, and I believe that that commandment was given for the same reason that most rules are given: to protect us. God knows that the only way we can truly find peace in this world, is if we are in an intimate relationship with Him.
But why then, if God only wants to love and protect us, is His greatest commandment a challenge for some Christians? Here’s a few reasons:
- Some struggle to stay in relationship with God because of scheduling issues and a lack of time. But, would you fall out of relationship with your spouse and explain it away by saying that you just don’t have time?
- Or, others have failed to understand that God is always nearby and that He desires to communicate frequently, not just in times of need.
- And for others still, the challenge lies in a questioning of God’s love; “How can He be a loving God when “x,y and z” has happened in my life?” The question then becomes, “If God is not really a God of love, then how can I love Him?”
The answer to any of these challenges is to take God at His word and see what happens. Understand however, that the act of loving is not a feeling or an emotion; it requires a constant effort and shifting of attitudes and actions, from those that are selfish to those that are selfless. Christ already demonstrated His selfless act of love for us when He died on the cross for our sins; He paid the ultimate price so that we might get to live out the eternal purpose for which we were created.
In an analogy that Henry Blackaby shares with his readers and listeners, he describes a ladder being placed against a wall, and the idea of picturing our lives as a process of climbing that ladder, only to one day reach the top of the ladder and discover that it was placed against the wrong wall! That’s how our lives might end up if our first love is not God; we will likely reach the end of our lives, wishing that we had invested our time in a love relationship with our creator, instead of in the pursuit of temporal relationships and things – none of which will get us a pass into Heaven.
To be loved and called by God is the highest honor of all, and to respond to His love without attaching any conditions to it – that is, to love God in return because He is who He is – is liberating. There is no man,woman, or thing in this world that can completely fulfill you, and offer you the gift of eternal life – but God can.