Continuing on from the things I have learned from the my experiences earlier this month, I think that after understanding our position in Christ we need to remember another important aspect that can impede our pursuit of God. That aspect has to do with our relationships with other people.
When it comes to being a righteous (“being right with God and being right with people”) we need to live our lives in such a way that is honoring to God but also in a way that is right toward those around us.
Jesus, when confronted by a teacher of the law, was asked which of the commandments is the greatest. Jesus’ answer tells us alot about where his focus is and what he is looking for in us.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-32, NIV)
First of all, Jesus gave two commandments and not just one. Love God is obviously very important and my last article address how we start to do that, but loving your neighbor is a whole lot messier. Jesus would not have mentioned it in this context unless he saw this as very important to how we should live our lives. He was only obligated to give one answer based on how the question was phrased. Yet he gave two?
He knew that a messed up relationship with someone is something that would get in the way of our ability to truly worship God. God’s Word even tells us that if we have an issue with a brother that we should resolve it first before we come before the Lord. Obviously if we want a vibrant and growing relationship with the Lord we need to make things right with those around us everyday.
This was a hard lesson for me to hear. Not because I have offended a lot of people in my life, but it came on the heels of a discussion of sin and an understanding of the concept that a sin is a sin and even the little things that we think are not as bad are just as bad. I began to see that I need to issue some apologies and ask for forgiveness from some people in my life.
It was humbling but it was a good thing. It helps you to remember that the people around you are created beings and that God loves them to. If you want to be a Jesus Follower then you need to be 100% like the One you follow. That means seeing others the way Jesus sees them; as worthy lambs of God that either know Him or need to know Him.
That is the first step in loving your neighbor as yourself. It starts with changing your attitude and how YOU look at things. Once your perspective is more correct than it is now then you are beginning to move in the right direction and can begin to look for ways to serve and meet the needs of those around you.
Remember, you do not have to have your perspective completely correct, although you do need to be moving in the right direction. Another way to say that is you do not need the house clean before you invite Jesus in. But you must be willing to open the door so Jesus can come in.
Remember these two important lessons:
1. Your humble position before the Lord-that you should honor Him with everything you do.
2. Make every effort to serve and love each other and work on keeping relationships good between you and others – Jesus thought it was right up there with Loving God with all your heart!