Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandments. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mathew 22:37-39)
Well, that is kind of harsh, isn’t it? Jesus isn’t requesting a little lip service; He is asking for all-out commitment. In fact, He commands it. He even makes clear what is at stake for those who ignore or “forget” His commandments, saying that you are my friends if you do whatever I command you (John 15:14). Friendship with God is based on obedience and commitment, not on simply mouthing a sinner’s prayer or showing up for church services…
By modern American standards, Jesus is being religious…legalistic…dogmatic…narrow-minded. He is just being too hard and serious…! He wants ALL our heart? He wants ALL our soul? He wants ALL our mind? He commands me to love other people as if they were just like me? IT’S TOO TOUGH!
To love Him with all my heart demands a lifestyle of genuine worship. To love Him with all my soul demands the kind of transparency and vulnerability best found in small groups. To love Him with all my mind demands an open mindedness to receive the Word from Him who is the living Word. To love neighbor as self demands a love for others that supersedes my personal desire to “go to heaven,” commanding instead a “heaven here and now” love for the least and the lost next door. IT’S TOO TOUGH!
“Too tough” is what most of Jesus’ DISCIPLES thought when He commanded His followers in John 6 to consume Him and be consumed by Him. All of them were called to decide. Most of them decided to leave.
Frankly, Jesus commands us to a place of “Tough Love.” Our fallen nature wants an easy fix; Jesus calls us to receive Him as Savior, Redeemer, Lord, and King. Our fallen nature wants a “get out of hell” card; Jesus calls us to manifest Heaven on earth. Our fallen nature wants to pick and choose as consumers what part of the gospel is easy or convenient; Jesus is calling us to be consumed with Him in a way that is NEVER easy or convenient!
Is Christ calling His Church to go after disciples who choose to turn away? OF COURSE, HE IS! But His Command remains—His FRIENDS will and MUST, at some point in life, choose HIM with ALL that they are! Praise God, His Spirit is here to make that possible…!
Can a local church focus on the least commitment level necessary to keep folks comfortable? Sure. Many do. But it seems to me the more authentic thing to do is call people as if “deep is calling unto deep” (Ps 42:7)! If Jesus commands our ALL, why should we play church as if He only wants our SOME? At the end of the Day (and that Day is coming!) I prefer to hang out with those who declare, Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life…!