"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holy Week Day 3 - Tuesday

“And Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire Law and demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.’ “ (Matthew 22:37-40)

  This is it, folks. The summation of Jesus…LOVE. Here is a reason behind His statement of ‘not coming to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.’ During the Tuesday of His last week, Jesus spent time teaching anyone who would listen and continued to challenge the Pharisees and other religious leaders at every opportunity. He worked so hard to make them think about their Laws and the futility of strict obedience and that only through belief in Jesus and God, in the greatest sacrifice about to be made in only a few days, would they be able to enter Heaven. Just being very good and doing good things for others will not get you into heaven. You. Must. Believe. An eternal life of being in God’s presence in the Home being prepared. I’m sure the urgency of Jesus’ teachings wasn’t fully understood by even His disciples. He had already begun to prepare them for His death, and His resurrection, but they just had not caught on yet. They hadn’t even caught onto the whole concept of God’s Love, at least not yet.

  We are taught in the Old Testament that the greatest law was to ‘love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.’ This is the Shema, the highest Law for the Jewish people. Jesus has now added a second ‘most important’ commandment; ‘to love your neighbor as you love yourself.’

  Who is your neighbor? The person living next door to you or across the street? True, but your neighbor is, literally, all those who live on the earth with you. Therefore, we should love all people as we love ourselves. As I sat on the podium at church this past Sunday and looked over the congregation, I was struck to realize (again) what a diverse church I am attending. And, how wonderful that diversity is. The verse about the gospel being spread to ‘every nation, every tribe, every tongue’ came to mind as I looked at how many cultures and ethnic groups are represented in our sanctuary on any given Sunday. Well, even more importantly, all these groups are represented each day of the week through our work in the community, state, nation and world. I think that this is what Jesus is trying to teach us. If we truly love our neighbors, then they are welcomed into our churches – NOT because we are of different cultures, but welcomed BECAUSE we are all neighbors and children of God. In my thinking, the church today must welcome diversity if they are going to do God’s work. Diversity in people, in preaching, in music, in staffing, in programs and ministries, in outreach, in mission work, in all areas of the church.  Again, I think this is what Jesus would want us to draw from the above verse.

  On this third day of the Holiest Week, I am examining my thoughts and actions toward all those around me….my neighbors…..God’s children. I would encourage you to do the same, if you agree. Just saying….my opinion and thoughts. If I am able to do even a part of what I have been writing about these past 40 days, may this be the one I embrace the hardest. It’s too important.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy. Thanks be to GOD!


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