Thursday, September 6, 2012

What He Requires

Recently while at lunch with a dear friend, she commented all that is required of us (Christians) is the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20): Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (see also Mark 16:15).  I responded that He requires more than that.  Our chat prompted me to search His concerning His requirements for Christians. 

He requires our repentance.  From that time on Jesus began to preach, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matt. 4:17). He requires us to love God and our neighbor as evidenced by His response to the Pharisee’s question 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 22:36-39; see also Mark 12:30-31 and John 13:34-35).

He requires that our light (actions) ought to shine in such a way that others will give God glory which reflects our love for God.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt 5:15-16).  

Loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind, requires us to seek His kingdom and righteousness and not to worry.   Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself (Matt 6:25, 34).  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matt 6:33, Luke 12:22-31).  

Loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind, requires us to: treat people the way we want to be treated, forgive others, and love and pray for our enemies.  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31). “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22, see also Luke 17:3-4).  You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. … If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-44, 46; Luke 6:27-29)  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)   From the number of drive-by shootings and mass murders of family members committed these days, it’s obvious people are not forgiving others nor loving and praying for their enemies.

When we love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, we don’t stockpile possessions; we share what He’s given us and assist those in need. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Then he said to them, Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Matt. 6:19-20, Luke 12:15).  In Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable to His disciples about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking in strangers, and visiting the sick.  They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (vs. 37-40). 

When we love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, we can deal with others in love, not by judging or condemning them, to remedy what may seem like impossible situations.   Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37-38).  If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17). Years ago, a Christian spoke to me in private and shared her concern about something she thought I had said about her.  By her coming to me, just as the Word says, we talked it out and hare remained good friends.    

Sounds like too much?  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands.
In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, (1 John 5:3).  We won’t have cause to worry as we:
·         repent of our sin while seeking His kingdom and righteousness
·         treat people the way we want to be treated
·         forgive  
·         love and pray for our enemies
·         confront others in love without judging and condemning
·         meet the needs of others by sharing God’s blessings while not stockpiling possessions

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them (John 14:23). Then Jesus said, Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear” (Mark 4:9).