Focus 40 Day 2: Extreme living through the essential of loving
Prayer Focus: Pray to thank God for His love – John 3:16
Extreme Living through the Essential of Loving
He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first com-mandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two command-ments hang all the law and the prophets.”
—Matthew 22:37–39 (NRSV)
I DON’T REMEMBER ANYMORE what our dis-cussion had been about, but one Tuesday at our small group, we found ourselves getting frustrated over whatever it was we had been discussing. Finally, Sylvia looked at me and said, “I want to know what our tradition says about this. What are the essentials?” I fumbled around for an answer, trying to fig-ure out how to best synthesize our Church of God understandings of holiness and unity into a succinct but adequate response to Sylvia’s question. As people of a holiness movement, we often find ourselves trying to pin down definitions of sin whenever we try to answer the question of what it means to live as disciples of the Christ.
In looking at Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, we find these words in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (NRSV). It can be easy to assume that Jesus’ concern was that we keep the command-ments given by Moses. Yet only a few chap-ters later, we find him explaining in Mat-thew 22:37–39 that the greatest command-ments are to love God with our all and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
That was when it hit me. As important as it might be to define or understand holi-ness and unity, Jesus’ definition of “the es-sentials” came down to the two greatest commandments: to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The redemption story that leads him to Golgotha is the very demonstration of the essentials.
It is a story that demonstrates a love so powerful that becomes the ultimate sacri-fice.
It is a story that lays the foundation and heritage on which we can build the holiness and unity “essentials” of our Church of God movement.
As we continue our journey toward Easter this week, may the continuing con-versation of these “essentials” find us lean-ing into a story that transforms us to live out the love of Christ.
Eternal God, we give you thanks that you did not simply call us to obey command-ments Christ our Redeemer. We are grateful you chose to write the story of our heritage through a life of love. Holy Spirit, our Guide, compel us to live by the example of Christ and to never settle into the unholiness of not choosing love. Amen
Jael Tang, Church of God Missionary to