When asked to sum up all the commandments, Jesus answered thusly, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39) Previously in this medium we have made the case that the Bible can be encapsulated in four words: “Love God, love man.” It is to be a bi-directional relationship. Love moving vertically then horizontally. “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (vs. 40)
It seems that many Christian people have grasped the vertical part of the equation, but are sorely lacking in comprehension about the horizontal aspect. Why do we love God? “We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) We pretty much get that. We were drowning and He plucked us from the waves. We were rescued, redeemed and regenerated. We are saved! Hallelujah! We respond by loving Him. The vertical relationship is established. We then endeavor to show and grow our love for Him with all our being. But how then is our love for Him to manifest itself? Horizontally. Loving our neighbor. We must go to our neighbor. That is what God has us here for. We’re not here to passively wait for our mansion in the by and by and then goodbye. There are dying people all around us. Ron Hutchcraft (see Part 1) says, “Too many Christians are content to just enjoy their own safe place in Jesus’ lifeboat. We fellowship, sing, and work on our lifeboats to make them bigger and more comfortable. Meanwhile – people are perishing all around us.”
God does not want anyone to perish so He sends us. He comes to them through you and me, just as He sent someone(s) to you and me. As the Apostle Paul instructs: “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (I Corinthians 10:31-11:1)
Do you remember this from Part 3? “I have witnessed some atrocious behavior by Christians that have chased people away from the cross; further away than they had ever been…my heart has been grieved to the quick witnessing unloving, unfair and ugly treatment of the very people the Lord has poured Himself through us to love, to bless, to be spent for.” So many are horizontally challenged. One Christian held up a sheet of paper with a list of names to me and said, “To you these our people, with wives and kids and all that, but to me, they’re just names on a piece of paper.” And that is exactly how he treated those “names.” Another laughingly bragged of his habit of turning on Christian radio so it would keep the unbelievers away. And that is exactly how he treated those “unbelievers” – “keep away, you might stain me.” Yet another spoke openly and often about the “love of Jesus” in between wild-eyed confrontations with the very same people he was speaking to. Oh the cost of not loving as He loves! Such damage done!
Hutchcraft adds, “We need – A Jesus Heart – ask God for such a heart – “Go ahead, God – break my heart for the lost and dying people around me.” Amen to that.
More on this next time.