Give Yourself to Others …

Posts Tagged ‘grace

As a result of some conversations I’ve had recently, I’ve reached a conclusion about debates over this doctrine or that, this rule or that.

My conclusion is that the more we talk about which doctrine is right, which rule we must follow, the more we emphasize that being a disciple of Jesus is about rules and doctrine.  I’m not arguing that doctrine is irrelevant, but I am saying that Jesus emphasized something different.

And the New Testament text even chastises us saying, “why do you follow rules as if they can save you.”  In another place, Paul writes, that “everything is permissible, but not everything is useful.”  So, it’s not about rules, it’s about grace and godliness.

From where I sit, you can make rules for yourself, because you know your own heart.

But you can’t make rules for me, because you don’t know my heart.  And as the Text says, “only God can judge.”

So, I encourage you talk less about rules and talk more about how to love the way Jesus loved — after all, that was his “new command”.  And it really seems to cover everything … if I could only figure out how to do that ….

The link below takes you to a powerful rendition of this great hymn.

By someone’s count, the Jewish law, delineated by rabbis from the Torah, included 600+ specific commands which must be followed. (Don’t hold me to that number, the point is only that the Law of the Old Covenant between God and man focused on following specific instructions.)

In the New Testament gospels, it’s reported that Jesus was asked, What are the greatest commands? To which Jesus replies with a quote from the Torah, ‘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.”

I think its important to note the last comment — all of the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. That is to say that everything about the law is somehow an elaboration on these two commands. And everything the prophets wrote build on these two commands.

In my view, it becomes imperative to our understanding of the New Testament and to our understanding of Jesus’ message to us, that we understand the implications of everything coming from these two commands.

But then a little later, Jesus seems to simplify things a little, when he’s quoted as saying, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Now, to make it a little more perplexing, note this verse from Galatians, The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.

These quotes do not conflict with each other. If you read 1 John 4, you’ll find that the way to show your love for God is to love one another.

One more quote from Galatians: The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself thru love.

Now rewrite this with the translation of agape defined in my first post: The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself by giving yourself to others for their good, expecting nothing in return.

That’s a pretty clear message!

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