Back to Basics: Walking the Talk

In Matthew 22:34-40 we had a deceptive lawyer (“scribes of the Pharisees”, Mark described him in a more favorable light) asking Jesus a fundamental question.  In his deception he could not realize the significance of his question but Jesus used the moment, as he often does, as a teaching moment.

I believe that the answer speaks to the foundation of our Christian faith.  Judeo-Christian faith is filled with significance and the symbolisms in the Old Testament (OT) that are fulfilled in the NewTestament and we are to be able to apply them in our everyday life.  You cannot have and apply the OT without the application of the NT. So, the lawyer’s question sought to question Jesus’ commitment to the fundaments of the faith as given in the commandments in the OT.

I pause to call to remembrance the fundamental mission of the Church.  We at Bethel have embraced this mission and stand now to remind ourselves of our individual responsibilities to this mission.  The core mission of the Church is, the sending of the Church with the good news of forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration and love.  This message is holistic and is rooted on Biblical doctrines working through the church. This mission is practical, contextual, it can be translated into practice it is ecclesiastical (relates to the church) and eschatological (it is about the future of the soul).  This “Missions call for obeying the Great Commandment the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the practical demonstration of the Great Compassion.”

In Matthew 28:18 to 20 we have the scripture verses, which will be our focus during this year.  It embodies the invitation of God to join Him in this wonderful plan of salvation.  Jesus reminded the disciples, and by extension every Christian, that His instructions came from and authorized source.  He was not just commanding us in isolation, no, the Father has granted Him this authority and in turn He was relaying the Fathers’ wishes.  What a wonderful opportunity, the Almighty God is inviting us to join Him in what He is doing.

What we are asked to do is to obey the great commandment (love), the great commission (go), and fulfill the great compassion (do).  In God’s agenda, are things He is doing in order to restore our broken relationship.  Every person can help to advance the Kingdom since it has no borders and it has an individual and a universal view. Christians must move onto God’s agenda if we are going to fulfill His call on our lives to join Him where He is working.  We are servants of the King, and as such, we serve at the pleasure of the King.  Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek or pursue the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness first, and then God will provide us with everything we need.  The onus is on us to pursue the things of God’s Kingdom.  It is in this pursuit that our will begins to lineup with God’s will.

If we are going to go back to basics we have to be comfortable embracing the historical nature of our faith and be willing to apply them in our everyday life.

In response to the question asked by the lawyer, Jesus replied

Matthew 22:37 x‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: y‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 zOn these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” [1]

What Jesus was saying is that all the Law and the Prophets are left null without the key ingredient of love.  A matter of fact it was this love that wrote salvation story. Now, there is a natural sequence that is taught in these directives.  Firstly, love is the fundamental ingredient in the Kingdom of God.  In God’s prospective love canonized the whole understanding of the principles of the Kingdom, it is not just abstract love or a theological love and or a theory; it is a practical demonstration.

This love addresses two district personalities the creator and the creature.  Since the creature was created in the image of the Creator (God) then the creature has to exhibit the characteristic of the Creator.   Therefore, since the God loves then we must love.

Once we have understood and obey the principle of love we can now move to the commission of love.  In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus clearly using the authority that was fully given Him by God the Father to send out the disciples or commissioned the disciples.  While we might have a good understanding of the principle of Love if it is not practice then it is null and void.  The commission put form to the principles; it is the vocation of love.

This love will drive us to reach, teach and fellowship, not in a spirit of isolation but one that place us among the masses. Now, as we fulfill the commission we have to demonstrate compassion.  Jesus in Luke 4:18-19, made this clear.  The heart of the Christian has to embrace compassion.  It is the divine love of God that tugs on our heart to love with a compassionate spirit.  In Luke 4:18 the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.  And this reference is also reference in

Is. 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Love addresses the issue of sin.  In 1 John 1 we are told in verse we cannot say we love God and we are still having fellowship with the things of the dark.  John put is this way,

1John 1:6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.

1John 1:8  ¶ If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

1John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

1John 1:10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

We often start off by condemning but Jesus want us to present the whole Gospel beginning with the creation, fall, restoration (including advent, work, death, resurrection, ascension and promised return), Penalty and reward, and Culmination in the reign in heaven.

x Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 30:6

y Lev. 19:18; Matt. 19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; [Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8]

z [Matt. 7:12; Rom. 13:10; 1 Tim. 1:5]

[1] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 22:37–40.