37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NRSV)
A historical novel Alaska was written by James Michener, who was the author of Sayonara, Hawaii, South Pacific, and numerous historical fictions. Because of his passion for writing realistic novels about cities and states, he often moved and lived at the place where he wanted to write about. When he wrote Alaska, he was 80 years old and had a few times of heart attacks.
In spite of his old age and weak health, he studied the Eskimos, the industry, the weather and other associated facts while he was in Alaska. His strong desire and passion for writing realistic stories drove him even risking his life to explore the glaciers and joined the whale huntings.
That’s why his novels were more realistic.
What would be the motivation for Michener to risk his life? I think he must have a firm belief in writing stories based on the reality. His belief motivated him to have a strong passion. He put all his heart, all his soul, and all his mind to write stories, which made the people more attractive to his stories.
How about us? Do we have any desire to write our life stories with the passion like Michener?
In a way, we all are writing our stories in the book of life in Heaven. It is not for the people to read, but it will be read by God when we stand in front of God.
Our story may not be as exciting as Michener’s, but each one of our stories will be an entirely real story, which will be a story of how much we love the Lord.
When Jesus taught the greatest commandment, many Jews followed and observed the Lord because they were confused about Jesus. From their observation, Jesus would be the Messiah or a real prophet or a liar.
When they saw the miracles and healings, Jesus must be the Messiah. Likewise, when they listened to His teaching, He must be a great prophet.
However, when they saw Jesus helped and healed the sick people on the Sabbath and called Himself as the Son of God, it was clear that Jesus was breaking the Ten Commandments.
In today’s scripture, it happened again. When the Jews heard about the Kingdom of Heaven and the life after the resurrection, they were amazed. They never thought and heard about those things. Therefore, they decided to challenge Jesus and test Him again.
It was not an easy one because if Jesus picked anything, it might not comply with their traditional categories, then they could claim that Jesus’ teaching was not credible and became a liar. However, Jesus’ answer fulfilled and beyond all of their requirements.
Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And, love your neighbor as well.” He quoted this from Deuteronomy 6:5. It was given to the Israelites to keep up the Ten Commandments with their hearts.
They were amazed again at the rational answer.
God gave the commandments to bless the Israelite, not to condemn. He gave a minimum guideline to live in peace with God and the people. However, the Israelite made the commandments to a shackle which bound themselves as the slave of the law.
In here, Jesus was telling the people how to be free from the slavery life.
When Jesus said the commandment of loving God and the neighbor, He was not forcing the people to love God. How could anyone force to love someone? We know love comes from our heart either naturally or voluntarily, not by force.
Jesus wanted us to love the Lord voluntarily, which requires three things – heart, soul, and mind.
What are they?
- Heart (Kardia): Center of my identity; Inner self, will, intention;
- Soul (Psuche): God has given this unique identity to each person; Adam & Eve.
- Mind (Dianoia): intellect and insight; understanding
When we put them together, it becomes a person’s true identity and ego. We usually call it ‘My Heart’. Jesus is asking us to love God with my heart. That is where my throne is, on which I used to sit there like the king of myself. However, as we believed in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior, we gave up our throne to Him so that the Holy Spirit governs my life. Praise the Lord!
When we love someone, we want to do everything for the person and something the person wants. That doesn’t mean that you give up what you do and what you like. You just do your best to please the person and have the person’s attention.
Likewise, when you experience the love of the Lord, you would do as much as possible to please Him. That applies when you decided to love the Lord, you should be able to love your neighbor as well. If so, who would be our neighbor? It starts with your spouse, your family, your friends, your brothers and sisters in Christ, your community, your country, and the people around the world.
Apostle Paul said in Romans 15:1-3,
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”
I would like to set this as our church’s mission. We come to church not only to worship the Lord but also we are to encourage each other to love the Lord and love other people by sharing the Gospel and the Word of God together, and giving in the love of Christ.
Michener risked his life to write those realistic novels. That’s because he loved doing that with his heart. Do we love the Lord? I am sure we do. Then, we can do much more than what Michener did because our Lord is the source of power and gives us the strength.
Let’s love the Lord with all our hearts and love our neighbor by sacrificing some of what we have. That would please and glorify our Lord. Amen.