Ask any group of Christians the question, What is the one thing that God want from us? and you’re bound to get a variety of answers. God wants us to be holy. God wants us to be faithful. God wants us to evangelize the lost. God wants us to read our bibles. God wants us to pray. God wants us ___________ . You can fill in the blank.
All of the things that we think of as germane to the Christian life are good and necessary, but there is one thing that God wants above all else – He wants us to be known as people whose lives are guided by and whose every action is determined by the core value of love. The Christian life is really that simple. Just live and act in love.
We’re familiar with the greatest commandment. When Christ was asked to identify the one commandment that stood above all others He said love God, love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). What is sometimes forgotten in the exchange between Christ and the religious leaders in Israel was His final comment – On these two commandments hang all of the Law and the Prophets. That is, the issue of love of God and love of others summarizes all of our moral duty towards God and towards each other.
The Apostle Paul picked up on this theme in the book of Romans and wrote: For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 14:9-10
Christ had already defined the concept of neighbor in the gospel of Luke (Luke 10:29f) to include people more than just our friends. If the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us anything, it teaches that our neighbors are people who don’t look like us; people who don’t like us and who we don’t like (there was a mutual dislike between the Jews and the Samaritans); people who are not in our socio-economic class; and people we would rather not be around. That pretty much includes everyone you can think of. Now the Apostle tells us that if we are truly living out the gospel we will never do anything that will bring harm to anyone who fits that description.
The reason that love is the fulfillment of the law of God and the essence of the Christian life is because you can’t commit adultery or murder or steal or lie or covet if you are acting in love. Those things and many more, are contrary to the concept of love. The point that both Christ and Paul made was that any action that is harmful to another person is outside the realm of love and therefore outside the realm of the Christian life.
Love always acts in ways that is beneficial to other people. Whenever our actions add value and benefit to the life of another person we are acting in love. When our actions do not add value and benefit to the life of another person we are not acting in love.
What God wants from us is simply to act in loving ways towards each other. If we do that we have done all that God wants us to do.
Stay in the Word