Imagine being able to live with your hero. This person (male or female, pronouns used interchangeably) is your ideal of what it means to be a human being. You adore this person. You cherish the times you can be with her. You have been around him enough to know that he posesses wisdom unlike anyone you have ever encountered. One day you find out that your hero has a terminal disease and that she will only be with you a short while longer. You feel like you have just been hit by a bus. You reach out to your hero and ask if you can come over for a visit. (Perhaps your last?) You sit down across the kitchen table from each other. Emotions and thoughts race between the two of you before a word is ever spoken. A conversation ensues. As your hero shows signs of exhaustion, you know you must leave soon. Your mind is whirring with all the things you want to say and/or ask. Finally, you arrive at the question. Eye to eye, heart to heart you ask, "Tell me, what is the one most important thing in life that I should know?"
Take it to Heart!
Now, if that scenario happened to you, don't you think you would hold on to that ONE most important thing? Don't you think you would ponder and consider how you can incorporate that one thing into your life? You would contemplate all the implications of that one bit of wisdom and scrutinize your actions to see how well they conformed to the wisdom your hero gave you. It would become your credo.
If you are a Christ follower, then you know that the scene above has already played out. It was when someone came to Jesus and asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" You know the answer: LOVE. Love God with all your heart & soul & mind and love your neighbor as yourself (a quick paraphrase). Now that we know what our hero thinks is the most important thing, wouldn't we focus on this more than any other aspect of our faith? Sadly, quite often this is not the case. Looking at the state of our hearts and many of our churches one would think that Jesus had answered that question by saying, "Above all else, make certain you are theologically correct and espouse all the right doctrines." Or, "Be on the correct side of politics and vehemently stand your ground against all those who disagree!" Or perhaps He said, "Huddle together against this evil, sinful world and don't let yourself be stained or spoiled by its influence." Or even, "Ignore the needs of your city, state, and country. Instead, be happy getting together once a week with people who look and think just like you, to sing songs, stroke one another on how great life is and then go on living your life with no real nitty gritty interaction."
I'm Already Doing All That... I Need Something Deeper, More Substantial
Is it amazing how quickly and easily we pass over the two* most important things that Jesus taught and instead focus on a thousand less important things. I won't go into detail on these other things we put our energies into instead of learning to love. The primary reason we so easily skip over the mandates to love is that we consider that we're already doing such a great job in both areas! Right? "Of course I love God with all my heart! I have a daily devotional quiet time and I go to church!" And, "Of course I love my neighbor! Look at how nice I am! I smile at everyone and always attempt to see the best in people."
I always find it fascinating to look at the subjects of various conferences and weekend retreats within the Christian community. "Ten Steps to a Better Marriage" or "Doctrines of Sovereign Grace" or "How to Get More of the Spirit" or "Jesus and your Money: a Christian Approach to Financial Responsibility and Freedom" and (dear Lord!) let us not forget: "Prophecy and You: Are we in The End Times?" These types of conferences far outnumber the symposiums or retreats I have seen in my lifetime that were titled, "How to Love My Next Door Neighbor" or "Love Til it Hurts: What Does Sacrificial Love Cost?" or "How to Lose Your Life for Others" - how about "Loving God: More than 'Clean' Living?" or even "Loving Your Extended Family During the Holidays" (now that would be a conference to attend... would it not??)
As we moved to Greensboro nine years ago we started a process that had us considering and pondering upon those things that Jesus found most important. And you know what we found? We found it was the most challenging lifestyle we have ever pursued... and the most joy-filled. We invite you on this narrow, difficult road with us. We are no better at traveling this road than anyone else and there are many that are far, far more experienced than us. But if we travel together it will be tons of fun and we can learn from one another!
As you join us in this blog, we will be exploring the principles and ideals that Jesus taught us are tantamount. We want major on those things that He thought were major. Join with us.
*Jesus refuses to be tied to only one thing in this story. He knows that one is worthless without the other. One cannot be madly in love with God and madly in mad with his neighbor!