How short-armed is your faith experience? Does what you do to love God completely and love others as yourself truly extend beyond the boundaries of yourself, your home and your church? This enhanced re-iteration of Deuteronomy 6:5 is God’s greatest command to his followers: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. And, love your neighbor as yourself.” This scriptural command is familiar to most Christians. It is both comprehensive and demanding. Most of us would be in agreement these are good marching orders. Yet, we struggle with the lack of “descriptives,” the “metrics” that might follow to help us know whether or not we are “on track.” As people who live immersed in God’s grace, we don’t necessarily desire another rigid list of dos and don’ts. But, is there some 1-800 number we can call to get a status check, please?
As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Savior, consider the motivation and example of Jesus as described in Philippians 2, where though equal to God and enjoying the splendors of heaven and fellowship with the Father, he purposed to sacrificially put his entitlements aside so that you and I could see what God meant as He lived out His great command visibly before us. He demonstrated humility, obedience and joyful sacrifice. His example led to his physical death. Our obedience merely leads to the death of “ourselves” and through such sacrifices we find what it really means to live!
What would it mean for you and I to truly ask God to examine our lives and offer us counsel and perhaps a description of the course he would have our lives take in the days left granted to us? This season would be a good time to consider a re-opening of our hearts to God and invite a fresh orientation if that is what’s in order. Many of us are stuck in routines that are familiar and comfortable and from all outward appearances “good,” but are we considering that God has something even greater in store for each of us if we will risk the safety of our status quo and adventure with Him? I think this is especially important for those who are in their later years and whose grasp of God and what He desires in them has not been revisited given their giftedness, experience, wisdom and available time.
No matter the age, we can all drift to a place where we are too content with what life has become and too concerned that change would wreck the safety of our “zone.” There is boldness in making such a step, asking God to “search me and know my heart” (Ps. 139:23). This is an invitation for God, who knows our strengths, weaknesses and fears, and who knows “the plans I have for you” (Jer. 29:11) to reorient us towards the “good works” He prepared for us to do before we were born (Eph. 2:10). There is life beyond our present experience. There is fulfillment beyond our imagination. There is pleasure which will not only excite us but will warm the heart of God. This richness was designed for all believers to experience, but it will never be enjoyed until our contentment is derived from knowing what God pleasures in us. Can we say as we search scripture that we love God with all we are, that we receive and obey his word joyfully and gratefully, and that we approach what sacrifices we may be called to as opportunities to deepen our love for Him and others? Think About It.