The word “commandment” has so much weight. It’s something that someone with power and authority can set in place as a rule. For most of humanity, I think the idea of being commanded messes with our sense of identity. We don’t want to live under someone else’s rules, because who better than us should tell us what to do? Commanding takes away one’s ability to choose something different. It’s not an option-oriented word, it’s one with finality. When we are commanded what to do, we should comply…right?
In our society, if someone with authority commands us to do something, we usually comply. Police officers may give a command to, “Put your hands behind your back!” It’s to our benefit to listen and do what we are told. Of course, there are the select few that disobey a command and find themselves in a big problem. We’ve established a system that we live in that has some commands that we, for the most part, all agree to live by. So why is it that we, the church of Jesus Christ, struggle with the Great Commandment Jesus left us to follow; to first love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Is it possible that we, God’s own children, have resisted being told what to do because we think that somehow we will lose sight of who we are? So many times we misread in the Old Testament that God was a God of laying down the law! He was commandment driven back then, right? Then Jesus came on the scene and it was all about His love for us. Now God is less rule driven and He sent His Son to do what we couldn’t so that we could go back to doing life our way…. Does that sound a little crazy to anyone else? Yes, God sent Jesus because He loved us, and He allowed Him to suffer what was ours to bear. But He didn’t do all of that so we could continue right where we left off. God sent Jesus to show us a love we had never seen before! It was, and is, a radical love. A love so deep that it penetrates to the core of our being. When we allow His presence into our life we radically begin to transform. Left to our own devices, we don’t know how to receive this kind of love. We need the acceptance of what Jesus did in His death and resurrection for us, so that we can be forever changed. The thing is, when we say we receive all that Jesus has done for us, we are saying that He is Lord of our lives. That puts Him in a position of power and authority over our lives. We are saying, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” This would mean that when He gives a command, we should comply!
Saying Yes to Jesus means saying no to our selfish nature. We are either surrendered to Him or we’re not. It’s that simple. Full surrender is allowing Him to have full access to our hearts, our minds and our souls. We read the words He commanded us to do, to love God with all that we are, and love our neighbors as ourselves. It now feels like a privilege instead of a demand put on us. When we are fully surrendered, we comply because we are operating in a love that is not our own. Full surrender is where I desire to be, but unfortunately I’m not there enough. When we are not fully surrendered, this commandment becomes burdensome. Loving God so fully takes effort and time, both of which our society has very little of right now. So we try to fit Him in and it can end up feeling forced on our part. Less time giving all of ourselves fully to our Creator leaves gaps in our relationship with Him. Not because He has gone anywhere, but because we are operating outside of what has been commanded over our lives. Then we try to love out of a place of lack, based on our own understanding of what love is. Our neighbors aren’t always people we like or even get along with. In fact, our neighbor could be someone who is night and day different from us. Now, without being fully surrendered in the commandment Jesus gave, we are left to our own devices to put love into action. This is where it falls apart!
It is no mistake that Jesus said loving God and our neighbors as ourselves was a command, not an option. He knew that even when we give our lives to Him we have to surrender to His authority. Belief in Jesus is the spark to get us into a life surrendered to Him so that we can truly be all we were created to be, and then live out our days with Him in eternity. We can’t opt in and then pick what works and what doesn’t according to our self needs. Jesus Himself tells us that He doesn’t do or say anything outside of what the Father does and says, and He’s GOD! So maybe there’s something to us doing the same.
Love is the answer the world has been looking for, but not the way they perceive it. It’s not something we get to stop ever doing as Christians; it’s the commandment from our leader! No warrior, when going into battle thinks, “I don’t have to listen to the leader’s commands.” They would be setting themselves up to fail in battle. Well, there’s a war going on all around us and we’ve been given the command, to love in a radical way! On our own we cannot handle the call, but surrendered to our heavenly Father, His ways become our ways! Love is standing up for the truth, it keeps no record of wrong, it seeks justice so that all are free. This love has a name, and that name is Jesus! Let’s show the world the greatest love of all. Us surrendered to Him, and fully equipped to fulfill His commands to love.
Have a great week, filled with love from a heart surrendered to the Father.