Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. (John 14:1-3, CEV)
Jesus is our living hope and in him we put all our faith and trust, not only for this coming new year but for this new day. Our walk is not a yearly walk but a daily one and one that should be governed by two simple things:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Ours days should not be filled with seeking personal fulfillment, riches or fame. We should not be trying to find short cuts or a way to avoid stuff we want to avoid. Our days should be filled with growing closer to Jesus and loving others with his love. This love includes telling people God's plan of salvation, even if they will hate us for it. In the gospel of Mark it is recorded that a teacher of the Law responded to Jesus:
It is also true that we must love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and that we must love others as much as we love ourselves. These commandments are more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that we could possibly make. (Mark 12:33)
These two things are of greater value than anything else you try to offer God; of greater value than anything else you try to do for God. And how is this love defined? Hear the words of Jesus:
If you love only someone who loves you, will God praise you for that? Even sinners love people who love them. If you are kind only to someone who is kind to you, will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners are kind to people who are kind to them. If you lend money only to someone you think will pay you back, will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners lend to sinners because they think they will get it all back. But love your enemies and be good to them. Lend without expecting to be paid back. Then you will get a great reward, and you will be the true children of God in heaven. He is good even to people who are unthankful and cruel. Have pity on others, just as your Father has pity on you. (Luke 6:32-36)
But let us not put the cart before the horse and become humanistic in our mission. There is a reason why the greatest commandment is to love God with your entire being; an all consuming love and devotion. The only way we could ever love in this manner described by Jesus is if we are possessed by the love of God and the only way we can be possessed by this love is to be consumed by it. Our love for our neighbour is only possible when we are consumed by God. Loving God must always come before loving our neighbour. We can only love because he loved us first. But there is so much that wants to interrupt this love and devotion.
The time is now upon us that, for the sake of the survival of our faith, we must make some decisions to simplify our lives. We can't serve both God and money. We can't sit on the fence. We can't be entertained by sin. We can't have a divided heart. The world is getting uglier and more hateful toward the Christian but the only worthy response to this is extravagant love for the world. Yet the only way this is possible is by a heart fully possessed by Jesus, with no distractions and interruptions
What is 2014 going to hold for us? Only God knows but I do know what he told us in scripture and things are not going to get better. In fact, things are going to get far worse and that's okay because it means it is almost time to go home. However, in the meanwhile we have duties and responsibilities and they all hinge on loving God with our entire being and loving our neighbour as we have been loved. May 2014 find us faithful in love.