Friday, April 27, 2012

Loving Beyond Your Abilities


In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus reveals the encompassing commands all believers are asked to strive to attain.  His charge is simply this: “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength …[and] love your neighbor as yourself.  Definitely a simple decree to quote, but it’s a far cry from simple to live out.  What Jesus is really saying here is He requires a sacrifice deeper than a good thought or a kind action.  Instead He requires everything you have and all that you are to be given to Him as an act of love. 

But the math just doesn’t add up.  Consider first, we are finite individuals.  Then, consider the fact we are called to love God with all we have plus share the love of Christ with others.  From a worldly point of view our calling proposes the impossible.  Fortunately God is not held by worldly standards.

Jesus told His disciples “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me shall never hunger” (John 6:35).  The lesson Jesus intended to teach was about more than just having enough food to eat.  His main lesson here had to do with the larger picture of hunger and need.  What Jesus wanted His disciples to understand was that He was the source of ALL their needs – body, mind, soul and heart.

Consider the food you eat to supply the needs of your body.  You have the choice of filling your body with quick food that will supply all of your caloric needs to function.   But eating this way over time will deplete your vital resources and your ability to function at optimum levels.  On the other hand, taking the time to eat properly with a well planned diet will fill you with food intended not only to meet your nutritional needs but also to sustain you for the physical demands that lie ahead.

Next consider the material you use to feed your mind.  On one hand, you can choose to watch and read, light and entertaining media and materials based on worldly values so as to reduce your stress and escape the problems of the day.  On the other hand, you can choose to fill your mind with truth by reading the bible and watching or reading biblically-based or biblical worldview based materials  The predominant choice you make in this area is guaranteed to affect the way you make decisions and ultimately how you sustain your focus on God and your relationship with Him.

After that, consider the way you feed your soul – your contentment.  Relationships and felt needs are the variables which affect how an individual typically seeks contentment.  It is easy to keep shallow self-focused relationships that can be easily ended, but the long-term implications of living this way prove no contentment in the soul.  Instead, choosing relationships with the intention of serving the needs others and sacrificing oneself provides a deeper sort of contentment.   The soul is therefore not sustained by the success of human relationships, but rather by a grace-rich relationship only Jesus can offer and and which you in turn can offer others.

Finally, consider the way your heart is fed.  Your heart is the source of all your decisions and it is the well-spring of all the choices you make when deciding how to feed your body, mind, and soul.  A heart determined to make choices based on the flesh and a need to feel good about one self will always put its interests first.  But, a heart determined to make choices based on truth and planted in a relationship with Jesus Christ will be determined to put God and His ways first.  Truly a heart focused on Jesus is the only one that can feed on the "bread of life" and in the end be sustained to fulfilling Jesus' command to “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength …[and] love your neighbor as yourself.”

God is not bound by the logic we want to make out of how things should add up in our lives.  As He provides for us it is wise to remember He will never ask us to give away more than the excess (that which we don’t need for ourselves) from which He has already provided us or plans to provide us.  We must just trust as we live to serve, that the supplier of all we need will never stop giving, so in turn we never have to stop giving either.

As a side note I do not want you to think I am saying that all junk food, light-hearted media, or self-indulgent options should be removed from the life of a believer.  But, what I am saying is that these things should never be considered as things which bring meaning or sustenance to our lives.  God alone sustains and in Him we find all we need.

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