Jesus replied, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
What does it mean to love God, and to love our neighbor? I love my wife, and I love 90s grunge music, and I love Honest Abe’s burgers. But these do not all mean the same thing. So what does love mean in this passage? The Greek word is agape (pronounced uh-GAW-pay). It is to love in a social or moral sense. It is more than sentiment; it is willful and deliberate, based on duty or an understanding that it is the right thing to do. In other words, it’s a conscious choice. And I think this passage tells us a couple of things.
First, worship is a choice. True, Sunday morning can be an emotional experience. We remember all that God has accomplished for us through Christ; we remember our freedom from sin; we remember that God is with us and lives in us by the gift of the Holy Spirit. That should fill us with joy, or at least beat back the darkness. But no matter how much of an emotional high we get, we willfully choose to love God. Some days that will be harder than others. A friend recently tweeted:
Second, worship extends beyond a “just me and God” mentality. Worshiping God will naturally lead to (willfully) loving those around us. We are reminded of the great love He has for us. For all of us. And we are thus prompted to deliberately, willfully, purposefully love others. This is not a sentimental, “I just love everyone” feeling. It is an active pursuit of those around us for the sake of Christ.When did "God is good!" become synonymous with "I got what I wanted!"? Let's be careful not to make His goodness subject to our conditions.— Daniel Christian (@danielchristian) August 17, 2014
Jesus says that the Law and the Prophets all hang on these two commandments. If we get these two right, the rest falls into place. So how are you doing with these two commandments? What is keeping you from loving God and loving those around you?