Do you like simple things? If you want to catch my attention, then tell me something that will make my life simple. I can be somewhat of an organizational nerd and will spend loads of time developing lists and schedules designed to make my life simpler. What I have learned, however, is that simple is not always easy, and what appears on the surface as simple can be deceptively difficult.
Currently, I’m working my way through a mentoring program. Last week’s task was to create a 90- day goal list, breaking it down into necessary monthly, weekly, and daily achievements to meet each goal. This is where I became bogged down, overwhelmed, and lost hours of time trying to determine how to break it into smaller chunks. On the surface, the 90-day goal strategy appeared as a simple focus of the main objectives to accomplish. But when it came down to developing the necessary steps to do this, complications quickly arose. I immediately realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as it looked for it required both tremendous thought and work. The seemingly simple became difficult.
The faith of a Christian calls for us to be both in a relationship with God and other people. This sounds simple but relationships are often complex and difficult, to put it mildly. Christ, however, says that if we follow the path of love we can move forward and accomplish both. It sounds easy but sometimes it just isn’t easy to love other people even when we know we should. And this is where we often get bogged down and overwhelmed with all that life throws at us. But maybe it isn’t the greatest commandment that is difficult but all the other stipulations we tie into it that makes it complicated.
As humans, we like things to be broken into simple steps, especially when we are looking at the best way to live life. And so, Christ helps us out when He replied to the religious law expert with which commandment is the most important. The greatest commandment isn’t only a legal or doctrinal question. It is a life question. Christ is telling us how to live, how to be a new creation, and have a new and fresh start. It reminds us to keep our mind always on the main thing for when we do, we keep our focus on the core of the gospel.
Jesus took the complicated commandments and simplified them in His reply. Love God and love neighbor. It is a foundation statement of both who we are as God’s people and how we are to live. But just because He simplified it doesn’t make it simple. It does, however, instruct us on how to proceed down life’s path.
When we begin our journey with Christ we step forward into a life of hope and joy. For in this we can live off all the possibilities of our faith making us more Christ-like. It is only with and through the sanctifying grace of Christ that we can even begin to live a life that loves like Him; loving God fully with our heart and soul and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We might say it is easy to love God but our neighbor, not so much. However, when Jesus says the second is equally as important, He means that the 2 are connected and can’t be broken apart. The 2 commandments must be done together for one does not exist without the other. This is where the simple becomes complicated.
Simple but Complicated
It might not be easy but when we keep these 2 commandments in tandem, things change, not only for us as individuals but in our communities too. For when we love God and love our neighbor with commitment and passion we can move forward in faith and allow love to describe our lives giving us the strength to move forward. Jesus gives us these words in the positive and it is there we should keep them. This isn’t a “thou shan’t” but “ thou shall” which allows us to stop worrying about what not to do and instead concentrate on all we can do to show our love for God and others.
And if we need a little reminder of how to look at the commandments, Christ just gave us a formula for life’s foundation with active goodness and mercy. As for that extra push we may need, let us remember that the kind of love Christ instructs us to have is the kind of love that God shows us every day. It is through His love that we should find ourselves motivated to return the love and show love to others.
Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the commands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”Matthew 22:37- 40 (NLT)
Simple or Complicated; Love offers No Excuses
Whether we find the actions of both commandments simple or difficult, we must take them seriously. There is no justification or excuses in lacking love for God or our neighbors. We should always strive to love through the actions of meeting other’s needs. Remembering that there are no barriers of race, creed, social background, and we might also add political affiliation that sets anyone apart from this love.
As believers, we must obey the law of love as it supersedes all laws, both religious and civil. There is no excusing our indifference to others simply because we have no legal obligation to do so. Likewise, there is no justification to harm anyone through our actions for Christ did not declare any loopholes in the law of love. When love demands it, we are to be beyond all legal requirements to imitate the God of love keeping in mind always that love does no wrong to others.
Won’t you embrace the simple but challenging greatest in tandem commandments and apply them in your daily life? Allow your convictions to resound clearly in knowing that you love because Christ loved you first. Find your motivation in knowing that it is only through the grace of Christ that you can move forward down life’s path. And lastly, surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that no matter how you respond to the world, Christ always loves you.
Simple things might sometimes seem deceptive when examined closer as they may require extra work and planning to achieve success. But in the end, they can indeed simplify life.
Love in Christ,
You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.Barbara De Angelis
What are Your Thoughts?
Do you find it deceptively simple to love others? Have you realized the connection between the 2 commandments, seeing that one cannot be done without the other? Share your thoughts on the challenges and joy experienced when loving God and your neighbor together.