I heard a song recently that definitely got my attention and it caused me to do lots of thinking about all of the disputes and conflicts that are a part of our lives. On a daily basis, we hear or read about conflicts between nations, races, businesses, political parties and their leaders, genders, friends, and families. They even occur in the churches, of all places. Folks abuse each other, misuse each other, lie to each other, cheat each other, manipulate each other, and nowadays even kill folks they don’t even know in mass shootings. Where in the world are we headed?
The song “Why can’t all of God’s children get along?” asks some most profound questions. Is this God’s plan? Is sin the culprit? Does God allow it and if so why? The short answers are “no,” “yes,” and “yes,” with the qualification on the latter that it’s because God gives us “choice.” I believe we can all agree that there may be more hurt in the world today than perhaps ever before. Many believe that it’s because of a disconnect with God and that this is the real problem that breeds the others. By the way, the song referred to above is by Karen Peck and New River and it’s worth a listen.
There is a way to get things in the proper perspective and that is to find what Jesus had to say about how to get along in this troubled world we live in. Remember, as we take a look at the words of Jesus, the context in which they were spoken. First, it must be recognized that Jesus came to announce, usher in and unleash God’s Kingdom. He did that without question. The religious leaders of that day – the Sadducees and Pharisees – constantly debated Jesus in an attempt to trap Him and discredit Him. They saw Jesus as a threat to their position, power and authority over the masses. In one of these debates the leaders were asking Jesus why He did certain things like healing on the Sabbath and other things that their “rules” banned. A lawyer observed one of the debates where the various commandments were being debated. He asked Jesus a most timely and important question and that was: “which is the most important commandment?”
Jesus answered the lawyer by saying that the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength.” Jesus then said that the second most important is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus concluded by saying that “there is no greater commandment than these.” I have to wonder how different our lives would be if we really followed these commandments?
The way of Jesus is a commitment to a radical life of love. Living a kingdom-centered life involves nothing more, and nothing less, than living out the Biblical call to love God and to love your neighbors. It is critical to understand and accept that your neighbor may not look like you, talk like you or even live in your state or even your country. Living for God, and according to His commandments, involves acting as Jesus would act in your daily dealings with folks. Loving folks may not come easy, but remember that we love God because God first loved us. If we have faith in God’s promises, trust God and obey His commandments, then getting along with folks has to become very easy.
My prayer is that we will be like the lawyer in Mark 12:28-34 and really understand what Jesus is telling us in those verses. I am working on that and will try extra hard to do a better job of getting along with “my neighbors” in the future.
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