Loving God is only the beginning of being an authentic Christ-follower

Read: Matthew 23:25-28

Ask Yourself & Journal:

•  How earnestly does Jesus desire that we are authentic at our core?

VERY.  So much so that, in Matthew 23:25-28 are unpleasant and ugly descriptions of what our core looks like when it is not authentic: full of “greed and self-indulgence,” “dead people’s bones and all uncleanliness,” and “hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  (italics mine)  If you ask me, that pretty much covers the entire condition of man without a savior or worse, the condition of a man pretending to follow the Savior.

•  Do you think it’s possible to love God and not love other people?

No.  In John 14, Jesus states clearly the answer to this question: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…  If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”  These statements are not “You better love me like this or else!”  Rather, it is a cause and effect, stated in the great commandment, that out of our love for God flows a love for other people.

•  Why is loving God the beginning and not the end of our Christianity if it is the “greatest commandment”?

I John 5 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”  If I try to do it the other way around, proving my love to God by loving people first, I am putting a heavy burden on myself; a burden of works that God’s love and sacrifice took off of me. The entire story of God (and don’t fool yourself, it’s His story not ours) emanates from his love for us.  If I don’t start there I am missing the point; missing the very character of who God is.

•   Can you be an authentic Christ-follower while neglecting the work Christ has called you to do?  Why or why not?

Yes AND No. I say yes first, because I believe in different stages of my walk with Christ I was authentic at that stage.  But the dominant answer to this question is no.  If I am neglecting the work Christ has called me to do then that means I heard and chose not to act.  I could have made that decision for hundreds of powerful reasons in my life: mistrust, fear of man, pride, pain.  Those are real emotions and real scars that we have, but it is still willful neglect and honestly admitting that to ourselves is hard.  I must believe that his Love is greater than these scars.  His Love Is Authentic.  His Love reveals the authentic me.  Only through Him can I discover who I am and like-wise show others who they are in Christ. 

Listen & Pray:  JESUS my LIGHT, if my profession of You is false, it will not endure the rigors of daily wear.  When people get to know me up close and personal, they should be able to see that who I am on the inside is what I profess to be on the outside.  Those around me can tell whether I am genuine by how I love.  I must extend this love in a very tangible and practical way to those in my world.  Truly, they will know I love You by my love for them.