DISCIPLESHIP: THE CALL TO LOVE

Introduction

What is the most important thing in life? 

Michael Douglas recently asked  what was the most important thing he’s learned in life: “kindness is not weakness. I try to conduct myself as a good citizen of the planet and look out for those who are less fortunate.”

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, said recently, “I think the most important thing in life is familyhood.”

Huff Post writer Matt Tenney:  “cultivating the ability to help people be happy, and to relieve them of the suffering they experience.”

Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world: “Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you”

Jesus was asked the question: Which command is the most important of all?

“The most important is Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31, CSB

This month we are focused on four calls to discipleship. None of them can exist without first being rooted in love.

1. LOVING GOD WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE

Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Moses is reminding the people of the great commands of God he received on Mt. Sinai. Commonly called the “Shema” (which means listen), this confession was recited by every devout Jew morning and evening. This is fundamental to our faith in God. Loving God with all you are – “all” repeated for emphasis.

All Your Heart – who you are on the inside, emotions. Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)

All Your Soul. The spirit, the self-conscious life. We keep our heart centered in relationship to Him.

All your Mind – intelligence and thought life. Fill you mind with things that inspire you to love God. Avoid things that take you away from Him. 

All your Strength – your bodily powers. We express love for God in how we use our strength and resources of time, money, energy, talents, words, and influence.  

Our worship, love, devotion and allegiance must be exclusively to God… (Akin)

Loving God is the basis of everything  it means to be a Christian. 

2. DISCIPLESHIP IS A CALL TO LOVE GOD.

Loving God Means Loving His Word. This becomes the focus for families.

These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9, CSB

How do we grow in our love for God?

Keep these words in your heart. Psalm 119:11 “I  have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (NIV)

Keep these words in your ears. Speaking these words to our children and to one another. Talking about God’s Word should be as normal as a walk in the park or lying down when we are weary.

Keep these words in your sight. The word is not only to mark our doorposts – entryway to our lives – but also the city gates – entryways into our parish.

Constant exposure to the Words of God and knowledge of His presence is needful for us to grow in our love for Him.

Other ways we express our love for God include…

*Prayer. Talking to God.

*Gratitude for His gifts (1 Timothy 4:4 “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…”)

*Obedience to what we know (John 14:23 “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”)

*Worship (Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”)

*Trust (Psalm 73:25-26 Who do I have in heaven but you? And I desire nothing on earth but you. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.)

We Express our Love for God by Loving Others.

Jesus, in Mark 12, added a second great command: The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” (which comes from Leviticus 19:18). When we love God we naturally love others because we adopt His love. Without these two greatest commands, we cannot be His disciples.

Conclusion

The famous people we mentioned in the first part of the lesson naturally understood that being a person of love means showing love to others. The Christian call of Discipleship is that we love beyond ourselves – we love with the love of God. He is the fuel that lights up our lives with love.

1 John 4:9-10 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Mark 12:34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” 

How about you today?

Resources

Akin, Daniel L., Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Mark

Craigie, P. C., The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Deuteronomy

Valentine, Bobby. What Does it Mean to Love God?

Przybylski, Debbie. The Call to Love God With All Our Heart.