Many sermons have been preached, many books have been written, many discussions have taken place about how we should live as Christians. We have agonised over making the right decisions and knowing God’s will for our lives. Some of us would have loved to be handed a book of rules – a list of guidelines on how to please God. We have obsessed about how to worship, how to evangelise, how to study the Bible, how to pray. We become with preoccupied with the minute details of what we believe, determined to prove that we are right, that we know precisely and unequivocally what it takes to be a Christian.

 

Been there. Done that. Grown out of the T shirt.

 

I guess God set the Israelites on the right track with the Ten Commandments. (or 613, if you count all of them in the Book of the Law – according to Qi!)

And then Jesus simplified these commandments, which were causing some level of confusion in the interpretation in his time, into three simpler commands –

Love God.

Love others.

Love yourself.

Just one command basically. Love.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:38-40.

It does matter what we believe as Christians. But how often has that become the be all and end all of our faith, with love nowhere to be found in our heated arguments, our judgemental opinions and our superior attitudes?

 

Maybe it is all far simpler than we have been led to believe. The writer of 1 John seems to think so.

Life, fellowship, joy, light, truth….

All wrapped up in Jesus.

All there to be discovered if we obey his command.

The one command that has underpinned every command ever written.

The command to love.

 

Simple, yes. But so hard to do. Maybe that’s why we try to make it more complicated than it actually is. Maybe that’s why we bury this simple command under layers of dogma, tradition, intellectual argument and perceived spirituality. Because getting down to loving is hard.

 

Loving our partner for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, is hard.

Loving our children as they make their own (misguided?) decisions is hard.

Loving our neighbour with all their annoying little demands and habits is hard.

Loving our friends when they let us down is hard.

Loving that person at church who has hurt us is hard.

Loving ourselves when we make the same mistake yet again is hard.

Loving God when things are going wrong and He doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it is hard.

Loving the noisy person in the cinema, the inefficient shop assistant, the group of loud teenagers outside the shop is hard.

 

GOD IS LOVE. We discover God waiting for us in the situations where it is hardest to love. To strengthen us, to encourage us, to fill us with His love.

GOD IS LOVE. We reveal God to others as much through how we love them as what we say to them. Maybe more so.

 

It is that simple.

 

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

 

Live simply. Simply love.