Dear Woodview friends and family,
Jesus said that the entire Old Testament Law can be summed up in two simple yet difficult statements: Love God completely and love others radically (Luke 10:25-37).
Lately I've been wondering if there is significance to the order Jesus put those in. Could Jesus have flipped them around and said and meant the same thing? Or is He saying that, in those few instances when it comes down to loving God or loving others, go with loving God?
Now, before I tell you where I've landed on that, let me assure you that I think the actual times when loving God and loving others conflict is rare. In fact, I think that overwhelmingly the way we love God is by loving others and the way we love others is by loving God. But there are some instances where those two things are in conflict...or at least it is perceived as a conflict.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus told the church in Ephesus to return to their first love...and the word "first" used there means first in rank...first in place. So if those things ever do come into conflict, it seems to me that we must put love for God first.
What does love for God look like. Again, for the sake of simplicity, I think it can be stated in two things: worship and obedience. Worship would entail being in God's Word, prayer, fasting, meditation, corporate worship, generous giving, communion, etc. Obedience is striving to do everything God commands us to do in His Word and seeking to avoid everything He commands us not to do in His Word.
Sometimes the church is positioned in having to choose between loving God and making people feel loved. In those rare times, I believe the church must side with loving God.
I hope you will be here this Sunday -- it's going to be a good and important day. Get ready!
Jon B. Stradtner