This religion thing is hard. I get things sorted out in my head and I think I got things figured out and then I read something in the Bible that makes me question my beliefs. I am involved in a Sunday school class and we read different books by different authors and they bring up issues that question how I believe. I then begin to worry if I am being led astray, if what the Bible says is being watered down and changed to fit today’s lifestyles or if I am living life the way God wants me to. My response is often God help me to understand and get it right. I don’t want to harm anyone, I don’t want to lead anyone astray and I don’t want to miss the mark. So, today is one of those days I am wondering about what I believe; am I getting it right or am I missing the mark? How do I resolve this issue so I don’t fret and worry?
We are reading “Half Truths” by Adam Hamilton. They are clichés we often say that are not necessary true statements found in the Bible. Many of them I have used in conversation in one way or another. I did not realize until reading his book how distorted they could be taken. So once again I am questioning some things I believe and some things others are sharing with me. Now I am not here to discuss Adam Hamilton’s views; right or wrong. I am here to share with you how I dissolve my dilemma.
In a recent class where we were discussing the book one classmate brought up the fact that God only gives us two major commandments which are, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40) Here it is pretty simple: we are to love God first with our whole heart and mind. We are to love God in the same way he loves us. He loves us unconditionally and we are to love Him unconditionally. The second one says we are to love our neighbors in the same way. According to Adam Hamilton (page 150) he says this, “As Jesus’ teaching made clear, your neighbor is everyone you meet, and even those you haven’t met.” In my mind I can live with that definition. I don’t wrestle with that idea of who my neighbor is.
In the book he talks about Billy Graham and his daughter Gigi at a banquet with President and Mrs. Clinton. On the way back to the hotel they were discussing all the difficulties the President and Mrs. Clinton were going through with his impeachment and his obstruction of justice. Another statement made by Adam Hamilton is found on page 159 where he says this, “Gigi said her father’s simple comment was, ‘It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict; it’s God’s job to judge; and it’s our job to love.” Once again we are to love our neighbors; not convict, not to judge but to love. I am called not to judge my neighbor on his or her sin. I am not to convict them of their sin, and I certainly am not called to judge.
I have a friend who says something like this, “My prayer is Lord help me get the love right.” Someone in the class said this is so simple, but we want to make it complex. If I can just get the love right which means for me love people with the same love God has for me; unconditionally then everything else falls into place. If I truly love people the way God loves me then I am not going to say or do anything that would harm them, steer them in the wrong direction or damage them in any way.
Religion is hard; living a Godly life is hard, but it’s because we make it hard. God didn’t want it to be so hard it was impossible to attain. It’s impossible because we live in the world that wants to share their ideas of religion on us. It’s hard because we listen and read everything we can by everybody we can. All we need to do is ask God to help us get the love right. If we can truly love others like we should we won’t see the sin in their lives. We will see them just as God sees us; a forgiven people who Christ died on the cross for.
I think I am going back and work on the simple commandments of loving God with my whole heart and loving my neighbor. If I do that everything else will fall into place and I don’t have to worry about how I deal with all the other things. I am human and I know I will not always get the love right, but at least I can begin to make that my prayer and let God begin the work in me.
How are you at following the two greatest commandments? When you see others do you fall in love with them or do you see their sin and want to judge and convict them? When others fail do you still love them or do you see the wrong they did? Can you get past seeing the pain they might have caused you and see them as forgiven people whom Christ died on the cross for? Lord, help me get the love right.
Dear God, my friend has the right idea when she asks you to help her get the love right. If I get the love right then I won’t bring harm to others. If I can get the love right then I will be living the kind of life you have called me to. Help me to see others as you see me and as you see them. Amen