From Religion To Life

We have allowed the Pharisees and teachers of the law convince to us that Christianity needed to be something religious. We decided that we needed to have the right rules and the right organization to be the right “church.” And when we have done everything the way we think it should be, then we feel good about ourselves. But the life to which we were called as followers of our selfless Savior, was not intended to make us feel better. Jesus left heaven, denied Himself to save us, then called us to have the same mind in us that He had in Him when He emptied Himself to come here and sacrificially save (Phil. 4:5-8). I’m not to be living for me. Instead, I am to be living for Jesus by living for others.

All of our religious arguing and separating has nothing to do with the will of our heavenly Father. He wants us to bless His children. He wants us to bless our neighbors first. I know that, because if I am offering God my gift of song, or service or silver and then remember that I have someone I need to bless with forgiveness or with my humble confession and offer of restitution; He tells me to leave my gift there and fix things with my brother first before offering God my gift (Mt. 5:23-24). He is infinite and timeless. He can wait. In fact, He would rather wait for us to bless others than to have us trying to bless Him in a way that has nothing to do with blessing others.

In reality, I cannot even love God without first loving my brothers and sisters (1 Jn. 4:20-21). As a dad, I understand this. The best way to bless me is to bless my children and grandchildren. The people I most admire and appreciate are those who have blessed my loved ones. Anyone who helps them walk closer to God is my new best friend. As our eternal Father, God feels the same way. That is why the second commandment is like the first one (Mt. 22:23-39). We love God by loving each other. We bless Jesus by feeding, clothing, visiting and blessing others (Mt. 25: 35-40). He puts the Spirit within us so it can flow out from us (Jn. 7:38).

In a word, we have been called to love people. Nothing else matters besides ‘faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6). That means all of the commandments are fulfilled by loving. But we need to read this one, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law” (Rom. 13:10). Every commandment is measured by love. Lying is wrong primarily because it hurts the ones we lie to. Gossip is sin because it hurts the ones we slander. Immorality, stealing, pornography and all of our other sins are primarily wrong because they are in direct opposition to our command to love. Love fulfills the law and God’s law cannot be fulfilled without love. To weigh our actions, we must do so on the balances of love. Does it hurt them? Then it is not love and thus wrong. Does it really bless them? Then it is love.

Instead of focusing on a church that makes us feel good, maybe we need to strive to develop a devotion to others, laying down our time, our attention and our efforts for them. That is why our loving Savior left us here, to fulfill His work of loving in every way (Eph. 1:22-23). It’s not about me. It’s about loving them. It’s not about religion. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other” (1 Jn. 3:14).

Because He lives,