When things are going well, it’s easy to “love” others. It’s easy to have a smile on your face, and walk with your head held a little higher. We allow our emotions to drive our actions, and because we FEEL good, we act good. We tend to follow what we feel, and loving others when we feel good is no exception. We don’t necessarily make the decision to love others, but we allow our emotions to guide us.
What happens when we don’t feel good? Is our head still held high? What about our demeanor? It completely changes, doesn’t it? People can tell when we don’t “feel” good, whether physically or emotionally. It’s written all over our faces, and it comes out in the way we treat others – the way we look at them, the way we speak to them and the way we act towards them.
A friend asked me in the last few months, “when did we as a society become so weak that we follow our feelings rather than what we know is right?” That’s a good question. While emotions are part of who we are, it is our decision to allow them to drive our actions. Love is not a feeling, love is a decision. In Mark 12, Jesus is teaching and is being watched and questioned by the Scribes and Pharisees – the religious people of the day – in order that they may trap Him in what He taught, thinking He may be teaching against what they have established as law. One Scribe decided to push the limits and ask about what the greatest commandment is. This happens in Mark 12:28:34, and Jesus answers very well. He answers that the greatest commandment is to love God with all you’ve got (heart, soul, mind strength, etc.), and the second greatest is to love others as you love yourself. The Scribe responded that Jesus answered well, and the Scribe went on to elaborate (or perhaps clarify in his own mind) what Jesus had said… and he did.
NOW, notice what Jesus said in response – “You are NOT FAR from the Kingdom of God…” What kind of statement is that?! While the Scribe was standing in close proximity to Jesus, so He was correct, I believe there is a deeper challenge here – and that’s where the title of this post comes from – how close are you? how close am I? Let me rephrase – are you (and am I) living out these greatest two commandments?? It’s easy to act like we “love” each other when we feel good, but are we going OUT OF OUR WAY to TRULY love each other, no matter the circumstances around us?
There has been a devastating tragedy in my family just over 6 months ago… and the effects of that tragedy are still felt on a daily (most of the time HOURLY) basis. I know that because of this, God will open our hearts to love others, not just immediately after such a tragedy, but to CONTINUE to love others days, weeks, months, and years afterwards because I now know that grief and mourning linger much longer than I had ever thought. We all read the stories of those who are trying to move on months or years after the unexpected death of a loved one, and I thought “how sad,” but then didn’t give much thought after that. Father, forgive me for my ignorance. The hurt and pain that lingers will eventually subside through the grace of God, but one of the ways God shows grace to us is through the love and support of those around us.
So, how close are you to the Kingdom of God? Are you fulfilling those commandments, or are you on the sidelines thinking “how sad for them” and then moving on because it’s uncomfortable to think about too long? Jesus got involved – Jesus loved – Jesus had the knowledge and put it into action. We have the knowledge, but are we putting it into action? Are we PART OF the Kingdom of God? Or are we “close” to the Kingdom of God? Just because we SAY we’re Christians isn’t enough; just because we GO to church doesn’t mean we’re living it out.
Get in the game – be a catalyst for change – for Jesus!