"What About This Love Stuff"
Exodus 20:1-6; Matthew 22:34-40; John 15:5-13
Pastor Tom Millner
In 1912 there was a little seven year old boy in New York who declared to his teacher that he loved his mother with all his strength. "How is that, Son?" the teacher asked. "Well," said the boy, "my mother is unable to lift the coal scuttle. We live on the third floor apartment and the coal bin is in the basement. Three times a day I take the bucket to the basement, fill it to the brim with coal, and then I take it up the four flights of stairs. It takes all my strength, but I love my mother. So that's how I love my mother with all my strength!"
Last week I asked you who were here to go home, look at yourself in the mirror and say; "I am one with Christ." I won't ask how many actually did that. However, I'm asking you again to do it and to keep doing it (perhaps first thing in the morning) until you begin to see how you are one with Christ – how He is manifesting himself in you and you begin to see more of him in others. The ultimate purpose of this simple act is to help us understand more concretely the love that God has for us.
In today's scripture reading, love is what God does to us and the response He longs to get from us. The Bible contains the greatest love story ever told; that of God who loved us into being, sought us through rejection, and bought us with perfection. We're told to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. What does that mean? What does that look like? Let's take a closer look at each one.
Love with all your heart.
The heart is thought of as the center of our passion. When we give someone our heart, we mean we direct our passion for life, wholeness and well being in that person's direction. In seeking to understand our SHAPE for service, we identify in what direction lays our heart. It may be for music, for drama, for other arts; or, it may be for problem solving, visitation, serving. You name it! Our hearts are as unique as our finger prints, yet divinely crafted to touch the heart of God! Loving with all our heart means passionately acting in God's direction. What that looks like is revealed in the character of Christ. Living in the loving character of Christ is a vital part of our Christian walk, one minute at a time.
Love with all your soul.
The soul is referred to as the sum total of our being, our psyche, our spirit, our eternal existence. The soul transcends the worldly, the physical. Our soul is the part that longs for eternity, longs for completion. Our soul is the part of us that is not complete without God. Loving Him with all our soul is giving witness to our wholeness in Him. These acts of wholeness emerge as we commune with Him in prayer, in worship, and in meditation on His forgiving, loving, and completing grace. These acts forgive; have patience, show mercy, self-control, etc. They are rooted in the presence of His Spirit!
Love with all of your mind.
Knowledge is powerful. Christ grew in knowledge of the scriptures and in the knowledge of His Father. You've heard the statement that we can do anything we put our mind to? That's not true, but it gives a glimpse of the power of the mind to do marvelous things. These things can be for good or evil. To love God with all our mind is to have a mind set on Him as we go about our daily lives. To nurture a mind that thinks of His glory before it engages our tongue, completes a thought, or draws a conclusion is one that loves the Lord. The mind is the seat of the will; it determines the direction of concepts that lead to deeds. Loving God with all our mind infers deeds of grace and mercy
– the product of God's love for us.
Loving others with the same degree of passionate regard we have for how God has loved us, loving them with an unending desire for their eternal destiny and loving them with the knowledge that the possibilities for the Kingdom are limitless, is our ultimate expression of love to God! We demonstrate our love for Him by loving one another. When I speak of loving one another, I don't mean the enabling that often goes on between us nor the kind of manipulation to get attention that is so prevalent these days. The "if you loved me you'd" stuff is not an act of loving as God loves. Love that brings another closer to a love relationship to our Savior and multiplies the content of His character is the love that is of God.
God's perfect plan for us was that we would live in perfect harmony with Him experiencing the joy of fellowship, the rewards of kinship, and the outpouring of a loving relationship. To the cynic it sounds like pie in the sky bye and bye! To the hopeful it sounds like heaven. To the redeemed, it sounds like home!