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I’m sorry for the absence of a post last week. My computer had other plans. I actually had everything written out and ready to go when my computer turned off. I turned it on again. It decided it didn’t like the position of the power cord and shut down again. And again.
And I gave up.
My awesome computer has suffered a “permanent battery failure” and so I have to keep it plugged in all the time otherwise I’m staring at a dark screen. It’s fine until the power cord gets finicky and since I was running on two hours of sleep, some things seemed infinitely more important than doing battle with my outlets, namely resting because I wanted to appear like a normal, cognizant human being to our foster daughter’s brand new social worker during our home visit the next morning.
If I’ve learned nothing else in the past year, it is that control is simply an illusion. It has seemed like anytime I make plans, life intervenes and I find myself sick, the kids are sick, something needs attention, or who knows what. It’s the tyranny of the urgent.
And I am reminded that my own battery has experienced a permanent failure. All of ours have actually. We need to constantly connected to what is important in order to function and by function I mean more than just get by. I mean live with meaning and grace.
I think that is why so much of what I’ve heard on the internet these past few weeks has really gotten under my skin. Left and right I’ve seen people saying that Jesus says to love each other and be loving…
While that is entirely true, there’s a whole lot more to the story than just that. I think the discussion really suffers when we reduce things down to simple talking points and lately, “God is love” has become one of them.
It’s easy to understand and fairly uncontroversial and in moments like this in national discourse, I think there are many of us who crave this. It comes at the expense of understanding the fullness of who God is and the character of Christ.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
What most people don’t realize when reading this passage is that Jesus is actually quoting scripture, namely Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and Leviticus 19:18. It’s essentially the entire law wrapped up into two points. If we focus only on the second one about loving our neighbors, we miss the entire premise. We have to love God with everything we are too. I don’t think we can truly love others until we love God fully first. Loving God informs all of our love for everyone else.
When Christ isn’t our focus, we start doing things out of our own power and that… well, it never ends well. This is why I’ve always connected with what Scot McKnight writes. His book, The Jesus Creed, came to mind this week because he specifically writes about the first century culture and understanding Christ and consequently loving God and loving others. The only cure for talking point theology is slow theology. It’s the kind where there are no quick answers and the only thing that will satiate our hunger in the fast food kind of culture we find ourselves in. It’s best discussed over a cup of coffee or a meal with no time limit because sometimes to topics are so vast that it takes just that long to lay out the issue.
If we quip that we need to love each other, we have contained the weighty responsibility that is to a simple sentence that will allow us to move on with our lives the second that it has been uttered. It’s a way to make what can’t really be controlled feel controllable. Heaven forbid that we do the same thing when we say we need to love God. The implications of this love must touch every aspects of our lives if we are to grow. If we aren’t willing to let it, I would argue it may not actually be love.
It’s strangely like my computer situation and I’ve been laughing at the irony for the past week. Every time I’ve sat down to write I’ve had to be plugged in. I also can’t write if I’m not plugged into Christ. The fuzzy Christ that we hear so much about isn’t really the Christ that we need to know. We need to chase after the one who in these verses demands everything in asking to be loved with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It reaches into every aspect of our lives from relationships, work, choices, and even home visits with social workers.
A great place to start is with The Jesus Creed because McKnight does a fantastic job of explaining the culture the Bible speaks from and how everything comes together in love, justice, relationships, forgiveness, and the journey. It’s great theology that will spark the conversations we should be having instead of those we are trying to settle with talking points. You can pick up a copy here at Amazon. These are affiliate links which means that if you use the link make any purchase, I will make a small commission that goes towards running this website. You will never pay more for using these links. Thank you so much for your support!
I hope that you take the time to read this book, The Jesus Creed. It’s one of my favorites and has influenced me profoundly for Christ. I’d love to hear what think of it! May you have a wonderful week and spend some time plugging into Christ and loving God with all that you are, just without the battery issues that I’ve been having!