In Matthew 22, Jesus is under siege by clever people who are trying to trap him using questions that will get him into trouble. They seemed to do this quite a lot- and we all love the way that he always saw it coming, but gave answers that were far more than they expected.
This time, they were asking him about what was the most important commandment. Quite what they were trying to trap him with, who knows, but Jesus was clear that the most important commandment was to love God.
Love him with everything you are, and will be.
Love him with your heart, your head, and your wallet.
Then he said that the next commandment was to love other people as you love yourself. This loving others bit almost reads like an after-thought because if you did really love this God of ours, then it would be impossible not to get into what HE is into. It would be be a natural thing to love the things he loves. And perhaps above all things, it seems that he loves…us.
What does this mean in your life and experience? Because, if I am honest- I am not always sure what loving God means. How do you love someone who is essentially unknowable? Because no matter how big our thoughts towards God are, he is always bigger, he is always MORE.
One of the aspirations that modern Christianity has given us is the possibility of a ‘personal relationship’ with God. I suspect this would have been a startling concept for our church fathers. It is an idea that seems to domesticate God, and recast him in a role that is of our own making. Is this what it means to love God? Do we need to make his shape fit our lives- invite him into our little boxes?
I think if we did, he would come. He loves us after all. But I also think that he wants to invite us OUT into something else. It is an adventure into a kind of purple mystery. There are moments of almost painful clarity, but on the whole, it seems that what most of us experience in this search after our version of the Universe Maker is uncertainty.
Don’t get me wrong. I know people of faith who never seem to experience doubt or any weakening of their unshakable faith – sometimes in spite of huge life challenges. I can not claim to this certainty myself
But we people of faith, I think that when we say we ‘love God,’ we do so as a statement of faith and intent.
And then it begins. Two steps together, then many when we might loose rhythm. But as we continue walking- he is still there.
And the business he sets us on – I think this is the consummation of love. But it is not conditional, it is inspirational.
So may you and I catch glimpses of the love of God.
May we see him in the wonder of the sunrise,
And in the mystery of the night sky.
May we see him in the vulnerability of a small child,
And in the broken waste of a drunk down on his luck
May we learn to love
The things that he loves
And live to walk
In his shadow.