SER # 41Wa
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
21ST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SUNDAY OCTOBER 25TH 2020
TEXTS: MATTHEW 22: 34 – 46
THEME: CHRISTIANS MARCHING ORDERS.
Whenever we think of Commandments we think of rules where one has to check every day to see if you are within minimum required for the day. (what is the minimum?) We have to also understand that the origin of the Ten Commandments was from God wanting to give his people something to guide them. Over the years, people added their rules to support or define more and people found it hard to follow. Maybe that is why one of the young lawyers asked Jesus this question in wanting to know the most important Commandment. Therefore, out of the request by the people wanting to know by what rules they needed to live by or what required to do to relate right with their God. Jesus offered the two Commandments as we read today. The people in Jesus time they had written and unwritten rules that they operated by. An example is the rule of how many times one can forgive the other (3 times) what kind of clothes to wear and when. This was accompanied by set of rituals that needed to be observed for their different occasions of their lives.
So, when one of the Pharisees asked Jesus the question about the most important Commandment, it could be viewed in two ways. One as a loaded question wanting to trap Jesus or two, a honest question where he needed the right answer to help him in his life. We have to realize by this time the Jews had 613 rules of which 248 were dos and 365 were don’ts. The 10 Commandments then were in this mix. In a sense we can say they needed direction. They forgot that each Commandment had it place and it emphasizes. But Jesus was smart enough and decided to offer a short summary of the Commandments. The bottom line of what Jesus offered was just simple way of living. The key emphasizes of what Jesus gave was relationship. First a vertical relationship of loving God and then the horizontal relationship of loving one another. This reminds us of the fruit of the spirit where love comes first (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control- Galatians 5:22) If you look at these 9 components that form the fruit of the spirit, they are all relational. That is simply loving God and loving your neighbor. In our journey of faith then we are to be guided by the principal of love. Bishop Rueben P. Job in his little booklet he called “Three Simple Rules: Wesleyan Way of Living” put the importance of loving God in the right place. Bishop Job wrote the three Simple Rules are: 1) Do no Harm, 2) Do Good, 3) Stay in Love with God.
Third rule that Bishop Job calls “staying in love with God” comes from what Jesus reminding his people in the passage we read today on the greatest Commandment- love is the common denominator. When responding to the question of what was the greatest Commandment, he turns to the most important word LOVE. But love is a relational. Love is fully actualized if it is in relation to something else. The rule of love here then means we have to stay in connection with God.
John Benjamin Wesley father of Methodism used to say for one to grow spiritually. one has to keep connection with people by participating in the church ordinances. These ordinances are: taking part in public worship, partake of the Lord’s Supper, be part of family and private prayer, search the scriptures, be involved in bible study and Christian conferencing. We are obligated as the people of faith to shape our life so that we do what is expected of us. When I look as Jesus response therefore, I see what I call marching orders for Christian. It is the words that we all need to understand and live by. Jesus give us the marching order that is made up of the following:
- Loving God: This is what I call the vertical love-marching orders. We read from the Old Testament of the verse calling us to God. “Hear, O Israel; The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Our love for God has to come from 4 areas: a) Our heart: when we love with our heat we can’t fake. Love that comes from the heart can’t be covered or hidden it will always find a way to link out if covered. Ask new lovers and they will tell you they have a way to express that love even when it means blowing out in the air. When you develop love from the heart, you seek moments to be with the one you love. We have to seek moment to connect with God. we can’t afford separation. b) Our soul: I believe this involve our spirit. In Greek the soul or spirit comes from the same root. It is therefore worth noting that this involves our emotions c) Our might(strength) This love comes from our mind. We exercise this love as we read God’s word and we engage in the expounding of his word. This kind of love take all we have and who we are. There is nothing left to guess when we sincerely and truly love God. God’s love for us is even greater than we can imagine for his love is the agape love. The love which sacrifices itself for the one it loves. Jesus demonstrated this on that day on the Cross. William Barclay says, “to God we must give a total love, a love that dominates our emotions, a love which directs our thoughts, and a love which is the dynamic of our actions.” It was the Psalmist that put it this way; “Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually (Psalm 105:4)
- Loving our Neighbor: This what we called the horizontal love marching orders. It has to start with the vertical first. For it is when we first love God that people are It is the love shared among children of God who share the same creator. Note that even non-believer deserves this kind of love. This love is what Jesus was calling for Peter. “Simon Peter do you love me more that these?’……… He said to him feed my sheep.” (John 21:15). This love for the neighbor is that of caring. Reaching out to them at the point of need. Remembering that your neighbor is also created in the image of God, the same God who created you. Love for neighbor is demonstrated in the parable of the good Samaritan. It is the story where someone was attacked by robbers and left for death. We don’t know the nationality of the attacked or the attacker. Two religious people pass by without offering any help. First came the Priest, saw him but passed by the other side. Then second comes the Levite who saw him and pass by the other side. And finally came the Samaritan man he saw him and had compassion and he helped him (Luke10:25ff). This is how you show true love to a neighbor. Love for a neighbor who you might even know by name.
- Engage in Peace, Justice & Mercy – marching orders: Connected to the great commandment is the engagement of us in matters of peace, justice and mercy. There can’t be love for God or our neighbor when we ignore the issues of peace, justice and mercy. Some like to be involved with issues at a distance and anonymously. If Jesus could be an example for us to know how was he involved in the three social components of life, that demonstrated true love, let look at his work: a) Peace: This takes us to the story where two brothers came to Jesus seeking Jesus to help them share their property. He taught that relationship between brother better than all the property that the world could offer (Luke 12:13 – 15). Jesus reminded his audience the importance of living in harmony. He said if one was approaching the Lord’s time and remember he had a quell with his brother he needed to go back sought it out then come have communion. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” Matthew 5: 23 -24). Then, b) Justice: You might remember the story where some Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus accusing her of adultery and wanted to stone her. The question I always ask is ‘where was the man she was committing adultery with? Why did they not bring him to Jesus for judgment? That is s justice question. I am sure Jesus was wondering the same. Jesus was able to apply Justice here by demanding of the Pharisees has never sinned to through the first stone. We are told they all melted away. The question I always ask is why did they not bring the man she was sinning with? (John 8:1ff) c) Mercy: This can be seen in the story of the woman who came to him with the flow of blood for 12 years. We have to remember her sickness was such that she could not be in contact with other people because they believed that kind of sickness will make them unclean. She had to sneak in the crowd and touch the helm of Jesus garment. But Jesus had mercy on her and healed her (Luke 8:43ff). The second story to illustrate his act of mercy is that of 10 lepers who came calling for mercy from Jesus (Luke 17:11ff). Once again, their sickness did not allow them to mix with people. For them they called at distance for Jesus to have mercy and heal them.