The Main Thing
I recently had a conversation with a former student of mine. He’s just written a short book intended to be used with small groups. In the first chapter of this book, he suggests an exercise to help us clarify what is central to our faith. In a limited amount of time—don’t think about it too much—he suggests writing three sentences to describe what we believe is central to the Christian faith. It’s an interesting exercise. What do you think you would say if you did this exercise?
In a sermon recently, I used an example where Jesus was asked a similar question. He is asked by a teacher of the law what the greatest commandment was. The religious experts of Jesus’ day used to argue about this all of the time. Jesus answered him with two commandments--“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus they adds that, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV). Love God and love people as I’ve heard it summarized.
We often think about our faith as something between us and God, but the Scriptures make clear that our Christian faith impacts our relationships with others as well. We often call this our “vertical” relationships in contrast to our “horizontal” relationship with our Creator. The Pharisees often seemed to miss this, and maybe we do sometimes today as well. Jesus is calling us to a greater engagement with the people around us—both those we are close to and those with whom we are not so close. On this Valentine’s Day let’s remember our love should extend beyond the bounds of those who are easy to love.
There are several new announcements in the E-Gram today, so make sure to read it carefully. There are several opportunities to be involved coming up—especially in response to the Mennonite Relief Sale.
God bless, Brian
Scripture readings for next Sunday Matthew 6:1-18—Can you think of specific examples of how this passage applies to us today?
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7—What does this teach us about praying?
Matthew 23:1-12—What’s the relationship between Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees and the Sermon on the Mount?
Leviticus 23:26-32—What does this passage teach us about fasting?