In Jesus’ Words: The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) –

Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?

Jesus answered the man, who was an expert in the law, by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:37-40)

This is one of the few questions Jesus answers directly and succinctly.  It’s pretty clear, and not many can argue with its validity.  Why then is it one of the hardest for us to follow?  We define many types and names for love, argue over it in our court systems, write endless poetry and songs about it, and divorce it when it is no longer convenient.

We don’t need more definitions and rules about love.  Instead, here are some beautiful thoughts on what it means to show God’s love and greatest commandment.  This is the one time I say we should not try to over-think it.

“Gift from the Sea”, Anne Morrow Lindbergh –
“How does one learn this technique of the dance, the joy of living in the moment?  Why is it so difficult?  What makes us hesitate and stumble?  It is fear, I think, that makes one cling to the last moment or clutch greedily to the next.  It can only be replaced by love.  When the heart is flooded with love, there is no room in it for fear, doubt, or hesitation.  Living in the present ebb and flow of the tides – not owning or possessing or demanding, but freely, not looking back or forward in dread, but the present.”

“Crazy Love”, Francis Chan –
“Love sets us free from hate, guilt and fear.  When we focus on Christ, this seems more natural.  Love is the only thing that can defeat all.”

St. Augustine of Hippo, Christian theologian and philosopher –
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Love is the reason God created us, why God cares for us, why we are free to choose, why Christ died for us, and why we can receive eternal life.  Love explains everything.

Happy Easter!  It is the greatest love story of all time.

The Truth

truth

What is truth?” Pontius Pilot famously asked of Jesus. (John 18:38)

“Is this true?” the high priest asked of Stephen before he was martyred. (Acts 7:1)

Stephen’s response and final speech, where he explains all things from the beginning, is recorded in Acts 7.

“…And when they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said,  “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”  Then they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him.  They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul…”  (Acts 7:54-58)

Saul helped kill Stephen.  He was a cruel and powerful man.  Later, Saul became a follower of the very same people he persecuted.  He gave up everything – his reputation, his money, his status – all to be willingly persecuted himself.  There is only one thing that would make a person do that – the truth.  And today, there is only one thing that would make 21 Coptic Christians in Egypt not waver in their faith as they are being beheaded – the truth.  It was clearly not the response their executioners were expecting.  One of the 21 was an unnamed African from the Muslim Brotherhood, who had recently become a new follower of Christ.  When he was asked to return to Islam in order to spare his life, he said he would rather stand with his Christian brothers and Jesus Christ.

“…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus.” Revelation 20:4 – Apostle John’s vision

Many people debate truth, but no one would disagree on the importance of knowing it.  I cannot think of another thing more important than knowing the truth, though it’s not always the most popular.  Popularity and majority do not equal truth.  There is no price tag on knowing the truth, and there is no substitute.

As we go through this Easter week, with celebrations and remembrances, stop and think on the truth.  Are you willing to live for the truth?  Some are even willing to die for it.  The more serious we take our belief in who Jesus is, the more serious we’ll take our responsibilities and actions here on earth.  For there is no salvation without a Savior.

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