Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Things First - January 23, 2010

Matthew 22:37-40 (New International Reader's Version)37 Jesus replied," 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.'—(Deuteronomy 6:5) 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 And the second is like it. 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'—(Leviticus 19:18) 40 Everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets is based on these two commandments."

What do we need to do to truly serve God? How can we really focus on our what we should be doing in this life, and what is expected of us by God? If you really had to summarize the Bible for someone, you would be able to do it with these verses. Your entire relationship with God and for God can be found here. Even if it seems so simple that all we have to do is contained in a few verses, the reality of trying to follow them to the letter is much harder than we think.

The week before Jesus was going to be tried and crucified as the culmination of his work here on earth, he journeyed to Jerusalem for the final time. During that week, he spent most of his time preaching and teaching in and around the temple. He was questioned and tested frequently by the Jewish leaders of the day, and it was at this time that Jesus gave his strongest testimony as to who he was. The scripture posted above was his answer, on being asked which was the greatest commandment in the Jewish law(this verse was part of the law that God gave us through Moses, when he brought the Ten Commandments to people of Israel; the passage is linked above).

Anyone who was a practicing Jew at the time would know the answer to this question, that all the traditions and practices of their "religion" were focused on this one command, to obey and serve the one true God. Unfortunately many of the Jewish leaders of the day focused more on the works of the law rather than the true spirit or meaning of the law. This resulted in the creation of a hierarchy within the Jewish community that placed the leaders above the people.

It is in these words that Jesus makes it clear to the Jewish leaders and to all of us, what we are to do as followers of God. This occasion is related a little differently in the Gospel of Luke(Luke 10:25-37),where an expert of the law asks Jesus what must be done to "inherit eternal life". Jesus explains the spirit behind what he is teaching by telling them the parable of "The Good Samaritan".

As we chose to live for God, we need to be sure that we are living to serve others. Jesus makes it clear that loving and serving God is the same as loving and serving those around us. It is when we exbibit our faith in God by our actions for others that we are truly doing what God expects of us.

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