Practical Application of the Word of God
“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 great commandment.”
This has been very much on my mind for quite a while.
As I wrote in my post, “Quintessential Leadership Practically Applied: Putting AND Keeping First Things First,” on my blog (The Quintessential Leader) today, “Without the priority being continually rehearsed, reviewed, and maintained as what must come before and be the integral part of everything else we do, we lose sight of it, until it eventually disappears altogether, and we spend a lot of time, effort and money chasing our tails.”
What is the priority in your life is what’s most important, what comes before everything else, what all other things in your life are attached to.
Christians say the Bible is their authority. Christians say they follow Jesus Christ. Christians say they believe God.
Do the lives of Christians confirm these three things that Christians say?
If the Bible is my authority, if I follow Jesus Christ, and if I believe God, then what is my priority as a Christian based on the words of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and God?
Matthew 22:37-38 – “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 great commandment.” – is.
Without this as the expressed priority and cornerstone of everything else I say, I think, I do, and I am, then I’m not in sync with the Bible, with Jesus Christ, or with God the Father. It’s that simple.
Yet many people and organizations who claim that the Bible is their authority, that they follow Jesus Christ, and that they believe God deny that with their words, their thoughts, their actions, and who and what they are.
How? What does this look like in practice?
Let’s look at one common example.
Almost every Christian religious organization makes as its priority what Jesus Christ said was the second great commandment in Matthew 22:39: “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Sermons, emails, social media posts, and blogs are full of exhortations to “love, love, love” members of the ekklesia – which, by the way, is not any man-made organization, but instead the handpicked-by-God body of Jesus Christ, which transcends contrived organizational boundaries (which, frankly, are created because of lust and greed for numbers and money) – by spending lots of time with them and fellowshipping with them.
Time and again within all these forms of communication, the statement is made that “this is the most important thing,” in other words, the Christian priority.
But that directly contradicts what the Bible, Jesus Christ, and God the Father say. Go back and read Matthew 22:37-38 again.
While there is nothing inherently wrong in this exhortation, it is not what God and Jesus Christ and the Bible expressly state that the Christian priority is. Additionally, its content is flawed and incomplete.
The reality is that none of us as Christians can fulfill the second great commandment without fulfilling the first great commandment too. However, this part of the equation – and it is an equation – is almost always left out.
I’ve had friends say “well, that’s implied” or “that’s understood” or “we should already know that” or “we’re already doing that.”
Is that true? The answer is “no.”
Because if we truly have the first great commandment as our Christian priority, then “living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” which includes all the commandments of God, would be the result.
We need only to look around at all the competing organizations claiming to be Christian and see what they do in practice. They fight with each other. They tried to steal people from each other. They tear each other down. They malign each other, often resorting to breaking the 9th commandment in either outright lying or more subtle spinning, angling, manipulation, and omission of facts and truth. Each claims to be the Church.
What these organizations in practice are doing are breaking both the great commandments that Jesus Christ stated in Matthew 22 and they are teaching their congregants to do the same.
This makes me examine myself carefully and diligently as I think very soberly about Matthew 7:21-23.
The flaw in the “love, love, love” priority of the second great commandment is the twisting of this scripture by most organizations to imply that “neighbors” are only fellow congregants in direct opposition to Jesus Christ’s own answer to the lawyer who asked Him “And who is my neighbor?” in Luke 10:25-37.
We’ve seen the stark contrast between what the Bible, Jesus Christ, and God the Father state as our Christian priority and what many religious organizations state the Christian priority is.
Who do you believe? Where is your faith? Where is your trust?
Knowing the answers to these with all certainty and not wavering from it – if we’re wrong in any of these, then now is the time to change and get it right – is part of discernment (using your brain, studying God’s word, and stirring up God’s spirit). Without discernment, it is impossible to know when we’re being misled, rerouted, or even lied to.
Ask yourself this question: “If I had to choose between believing and obeying God and everything else (meaning that choice would require you to give up everything and everyone else in this physical life), which would I choose?”
It’s a tough question. But our answer, ultimately, should continually be the one that is the most succinct definition of the mind of Christ, as expressed in Luke 22:42: “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
That is what it looks like to fulfill the first great commandment, which is the Christian priority.